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Wales could see removal of legal Covid measures by end of March

Wales could see the end of legal Covid measures by the end of March as the country publishes its long-term Covid plan.

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First Minister Mark Drakeford (Ben Birchall/PA)

First Minister Mark Drakeford (Ben Birchall/PA)

First Minister Mark Drakeford (Ben Birchall/PA)

All legal Covid measures in Wales could be removed by March 28 as part of the county’s long-term Covid plan.

Mark Drakeford is expected to announce Wales will remain at alert level zero for the next three weeks but legal requirements could go following a review on March 24, if the public health situation remains stable.

Wales’ response to coronavirus will vary depending on whether the country is assessed as being in a “Covid Stable” or “Covid Urgent” state, but it is believed that Covid Stable will be he most likely scenario – with an expectation of waves of infection not large enough to put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

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First Minister Mark Drakeford said Wales “can look to the future with growing confidence” (PA/ Ben Birchall)

First Minister Mark Drakeford said Wales “can look to the future with growing confidence” (PA/ Ben Birchall)

PA

First Minister Mark Drakeford said Wales “can look to the future with growing confidence” (PA/ Ben Birchall)

A battery of measures the Welsh government is to adopt include booster vaccinations for the elderly and most vulnerable in spring and a Covid-19 vaccine programme in the autumn.

A “Test, Trace, Protect” programme aimed at protecting vulnerable people is to replace universal and routine testing and the requirement to self-isolate.

Measures to deal with the spread of infectious respiratory diseases, like washing hands, are still to be encouraged, while businesses will be expected to build on elements of infection control already implemented.

The Welsh Government also said the plan includes the adaptation of public services, suggesting a move to a more localised approach to risk assessments and outbreak control plans.

Mr Drakeford said: “We’ve been living in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic for two long years.

“It has touched all our lives – across Wales, families and communities have made many sacrifices to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

“People in Wales have followed the rules.

“But sadly, too many families have experienced the pain of losing a loved one or a close friend.

“My thoughts are with them all.

“As we publish this longer-term plan, there is no doubt we have reached a significant moment in this pandemic and we can look to the future with growing confidence that the next year will be one in which we have a different relationship with the virus.”

He added: “But the pandemic isn’t over – this virus is full of nasty surprises and we are likely to see fluctuations in global patterns of infection for several years.

“We need to be ready to respond quickly to any future outbreaks or new variants as we learn to live safely alongside coronavirus in the long term.”

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