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Guidance on how you can keep safe and what rules are in place to protect people at alert level 0.

Part of:
First published:
5 August 2021
Last updated:

Introduction

In addition to these Frequently Asked Questions, more detailed guidance is available in the following areas:

We all need to continue to work together to keep Wales safe and keep levels of coronavirus under control.

We have sought to keep any differences with other parts of the UK to a minimum and are working very closely with the other nations. It is important to understand that the rules here in Wales are different.

This guidance and FAQs applies to Wales. For the rules or guidance in the other parts of the UK, please visit the sites for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Is coronavirus still spreading?

The pandemic is not over and the virus continues to circulate. We may see cases increase as we mix more with others.

Vaccination is one of our best defences against the spread of coronavirus. But no vaccine is 100% effective and some fully vaccinated people could still become infected or pass the virus to others without knowing. The more people that are vaccinated, the lower the risk to everyone else.

It is really important for everyone to say yes to vaccination where they can. We should also continue to think about what else we can keep doing to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. But we appreciate there are some people who are not able to take up the offer of a vaccine, or for whom the vaccine does not work as well.

Vaccines have weakened the link between infections, serious illness and hospitalisation, but that link has not been broken. The higher the rates of coronavirus circulating, the more people will get COVID-19 and some will also suffer with long-COVID.

How can I protect myself and others and prevent the spread of coronavirus?

We all have to play our part in stopping the spread of the virus, even as restrictions are largely removed under Alert Level 0. Transmission of coronavirus is most strongly associated with close and prolonged contact in indoor places. The highest risks are in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces over extended periods.

The most effective way to minimise risks, especially serious illness, is to take up the offer of vaccination, where we can. Both doses of vaccine are needed to have protection. It takes at least two weeks (14 days) after the second dose before a person will have the full protection from the vaccine.

Taking this responsibility and becoming vaccinated means we are considerate of others and can get back to doing the things we’ve missed the most. It is never too late to get the vaccine and walk-in centres are open. Businesses and employers should encourage their workforce to take up the vaccine offer.  

Even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, remember the best ways to minimise risks

  • work from home whenever you can
  • get tested and self-isolate, even for mild symptoms
  • meet outside, it is safer than inside
  • limit the time and number of people you interact with
  • keep your distance when you can
  • wash your hands and wear a face mask, especially in crowded places

As we move into the autumn, we will be offering a booster to the most vulnerable individuals who were vaccinated first. This will top up their protection before the winter months.

How to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

All adults over 18 years old have already been offered a vaccine and over 2.1 million people in Wales are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you have not already done so, there is still time for you to take up the offer of your first dose, or your second dose if you’ve been waiting longer than eight weeks, before we move onto the next phase of the vaccination programme.

To make an appointment for either your first or second dose, contact your local health board or have a look at their website to know how to book a slot or to find out about their walk-in vaccination settings.  

All 16 and 17 year olds are also to be offered a vaccination as well as young people over the age of 12 years with specific underlying health conditions that put them at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Children and young people over the age of 12 years who live in a household with someone who is immunosuppressed can also ask for a vaccine on the understanding that the main benefits from vaccination are related to the potential for indirect protection of their household contact who is immunosuppressed.

All UK authorised COVID vaccines are safe and provide a high level of protection against infection and severe illness. We are currently providing the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines through all our vaccination centres; these vaccines are being offered for all first doses regardless of age. 

Usually you will be offered the same vaccine for both your first and second dose, but if the same vaccine isn’t available at the vaccination centre the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is that you can safely have a different vaccine for the second dose. 

I am classed as clinically extremely vulnerable what precautions should I take?

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you can follow the same rules/guidance as everyone else in Wales. However, you are also advised to take extra care in considering the ways you can minimise risk to keep yourself safe. In addition to keeping contacts to a minimum, you may wish to think particularly carefully about taking precautions when meeting others you do not usually meet with in order to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. For example:

  • Meeting outside if possible. The particles containing the virus that causes COVID-19 are quickly blown away, which makes it less likely that they will be breathed in by another person
  • Making sure the space is well ventilated if you meet inside by opening windows and doors where you can to let in plenty of fresh air
  • Washing your hands regularly and avoiding touching your face.

Read guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable.

Should I take any extra precautions if I am pregnant?

If you are pregnant, as a minimum, you should follow the same official guidance provided for everyone. If you are more than 27 weeks pregnant, or if you are pregnant and have an underlying health condition that puts you at a greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 at any point in pregnancy, you may want to consider limiting close contact with people you do not normally meet with regularly in order to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19. It would provide greater protection for you and your baby if the other people you meet with have been fully vaccinated. You can find further advice on pregnancy and coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you are pregnant or considering pregnancy and haven’t yet been vaccinated, you are advised to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and to book your second dose as soon as you are eligible. You can find further advice on Pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination (on www.nhs.uk)

How many people are allowed in my home?

There are no longer any legal limits on the number of people that can meet in each other’s homes. However, you should still think about the risks of having people in your home and consider how you can minimise those risks.

We need to continue doing those things we know protect us and others. For example:

  • if possible, meet people in your garden or outdoors
  • wash your hands frequently and sneeze into tissues you throw away
  • get fresh air flowing indoors by opening windows and doors
  • limit the number of people you meet at any one occasion, the amount of time you spend with people and maintain physical distancing where you can

Are there any rules on who I can meet, where and when?

There no legal limits on the number of people who can meet at public places or at events. We all want to meet friends again but think about what is the most sensible thing for you to do to protect your family.

It’s less risky to see the same one or two people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally. The fewer people we meet and the less we are in crowds, the less chance we have to become infected with, or to spread, coronavirus. This is particularly important when rates of coronavirus are high.

Have the rules on hospital visits changed?

The current hospital visiting guidance is unchanged. The focus remains on ensuring the delicate balance between protecting the many vulnerable individuals who are receiving treatment in our hospitals and allowing visiting which is important for the wellbeing of patients and friends and families. The guidance allows health boards and trusts to determine visiting policies based on local assessment of risk which takes into account prevalence of COVID-19 in the local area and any in-hospital transmission. You should not visit anyone in hospital setting for 10 days if you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or after higher risk activities.  

Read more information on hospital guidance.

Have the rules on care home visits changed?

The limit of two visitors at a time per resident has been removed and providers should manage the number of visitors according to their risk assessment. The guidance also clarifies that visits may take place in residents’ rooms, if preferred, as well as in a designated visiting space. 

The revised guidance will enable each care home resident to nominate an “essential visitor” who may continue to visit their relative or friend indoors during an outbreak at the care home as long as they have tested negative. This will ensure that people can continue to benefit from regular visits when wider restrictions on routine visits maybe in place. Providers will need to put the necessary arrangements in place to support this change. You should not visit anyone in a care setting for 10 days if you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or after higher risk activities.    

Read more information on care home guidance.

When will I need to wear a face covering?

Wearing face coverings is still a legal requirement in almost all indoor public places, including on almost all public transport and in shops and health and social care settings. The use of face coverings in education will be determined at a local level.

Face coverings will not be a legal requirement in hospitality settings, like restaurants, pubs and cafes, where food and drink is served. Those businesses may, however, still ask you to wear a face coverings in certain parts of the premises as they have a legal duty to put in place measures to reduce risks.

If a business is multi-purpose, with food & drink one of the many reasons for a visit (for example a hotel with a restaurant, an indoor attraction with a café, an events or conference centre with a restaurant, a cinema or theatre with a bar), face coverings must still be worn by staff and customers in all areas of the business apart from the specific areas where food & drink are consumed.

Do I still need to keep 2 metres away from others?

Physical distancing is a key way to stop coronavirus spreading. We advise people to exercise caution and think about physical distancing from people they don’t live with. Coronavirus is still circulating in the community and we would encourage everyone to think about how they can protect themselves and their loved ones. In any event, businesses and premises may require people to maintain physical distancing as part of the measures they are required to take to protect people from coronavirus.

Staying at least 2 metres away from people you do not live with makes a big difference in reducing the chances of the virus spreading. The closer we get and the longer we spend face-to-face with others, the greater the risk of catching the virus.

If you become infected keep your distance from other members of your household as much as possible, especially if they are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Most businesses, workplaces and other places are still likely to require some degree of physical distancing. There is still a legal requirement for such places to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

How do I know if I have COVID-19 and how do I get tested if I think I have COVID-19

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of the three main symptoms which are:

  • a high temperature: this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough: this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste: this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Anyone displaying any of these three symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home and self-isolate while making arrangements to be tested. If the test result is negative the person can return to their regular routine when they are well enough to do so.

I have been asked to take an antibody test. Can you explain why?

Since 24 August 2021 everyone over the age of 18 was offered to opt-in to antibody testing when registering for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on the online government portal. Randomly selected individuals, out of those who opt-in and subsequently test positive for COVID-19 following a PCR test, are posted two finger prick antibody tests to use at home and return for analysis. This is part of a UK wide antibody programme to support our understanding of vaccine effectiveness and immune response to COVID-19 known as the Post Positive PCR Antibody Testing Initiative (PPPATI).

For further information on PPPATI.

Individuals receiving a positive test result

If you receive a positive test result, you must self-isolate for 10 days and follow the stay at home guidance. All other unvaccinated household members (if over the age of 18) should self-isolate at the same time. You will be breaking the law and could be fined if you do not stay at home and self isolate. If you receive a positive lateral flow test (LFT) result, you should isolate and arrange a follow-up PCR test.

Individuals identified as a contact of a positive case of COVID-19 and who are 18 and over and who are not fully vaccinated

A contact tracer will only contact you if it has been confirmed that you have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus. If you are 18 and over and have not been fully vaccinated, you must self-isolate for 10 days to make sure that you do not spread the virus. You are considered to be fully vaccinated, if it is at least 14 full days since you had the full course of an approved vaccine, and it was administered in the UK. If you have not completed your vaccination course (usually two separate vaccinations), at least 14 full days prior to close contact, or if you received your vaccination outside of the UK, you will be required to self-isolate if contacted by TTP.

Contact tracers will tell you that you can book PCR tests online. This should be done on day 2 from your last contact with the person who tested positive (or as soon as possible once identified as a contact) and again on day 8. If the tests are negative, you will still need to self-isolate for the full 10 day period. It is really important to take these tests even if you do not have symptoms. If you have been infected, it can take time for symptoms to develop and you may be infectious to others.

If any of the test results (immediate test or day 8 test) come back positive, you will start a new 10 day period of self-isolation from the day you took your test.

Close contacts of positive case of COVID-19 who are not required to self-isolate

From 7 August you will not be asked to self-isolate if you are identified as a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19, provided that you have been fully vaccinated or are under 18. You are considered to be fully vaccinated if you received the full course of an approved vaccine within the UK and it has been at least two weeks (14 days) since you completed a full course.

If you have participated in a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial (if carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004(2)), you do not need to self-isolate if contacted by TTP.

Contact tracers will call you to inform you that you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. You will be offered PCR tests on day 2 from your last contact with the person who tested positive (or as soon as possible once identified as a contact) and again on day 8. It is important that you take these tests even if you feel well, you may have COVID-19 even if you do not have symptoms.

Contact tracers will also provide you with advice and guidance about what you can do to protect yourself. For example:

  • try to minimise contact with others and avoid crowded settings, particularly indoor settings
  • consider using lateral flow tests on a daily/ more regular basis for the time you would otherwise have been self-isolating
  • do not visit vulnerable people such as those in care homes or hospitals
  • informing your employer that you are a contact of case of COVID-19
  • working from home if you are not already doing so
  • paying extra attention to hand washing and wearing a face covering
  • if you work in the Health and Social Care sector your employer may ask you to take additional tests as a precaution or temporarily ask you to undertake an alternative role as outlined in the COVID-19 contacts: guidance for health and social care staff

There may be certain circumstances where contacts who are fully vaccinated or under 18 may still be asked to self-isolate by the Test, Trace, Protect service. See related guidance (contact tracing: your questions).

If any of the test results (immediate test or day 8 test) come back positive, you will start a new 10 day period of self-isolation from the day you took your test.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms at any point, no matter how mild, regardless of your age or vaccine status, you should immediately self-isolate and arrange a COVID-19 PCR test.

What support is available for recovery from COVID-19?

Long COVID is a term used to describe signs and symptoms that continue or develop after COVID‑19. These might include fatigue, breathlessness, or heart, physical or psychological impacts.

Most people with long COVID are likely to need a rehabilitation approach. Health and care services in the community are ideally placed to provide this. In some cases, you may need to go to hospital for further investigation. If this is the case, you will be referred by your GP.

Further information on getting support is available, where you can also find links to find out more about support from your local health board and other sources of information, including the COVID Recovery App.

What do businesses and employers have to do to keep me safe?

Business, employers and other organisations have a duty to protect their employees and customers.

There is still a legal requirement for businesses, employers and other organisations to carry out a risk assessment and to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to and spread of coronavirus.

There are a wide range of things that may need to be put in place to lower risks. These are set out in more detail in separate guidance.

You should be aware that these requirements are a legal duty, and you should follow any rules that are put in place by your employer or any businesses or other organisations you visit. This might include:

  • physical distancing in the premises
  • limiting numbers or group sizes
  • providing contact details to support contact tracing
  • providing table service
  • limiting numbers of people at pinch-points, such as toilets
  • use of face coverings, even in indoor premises not normally open to the public

There will be other measures that businesses and others take that may not be as visible, such as a premises improving ventilation or regular testing of staff.

What support is available for business?

Welsh Government emergency business support packages have now closed for applications. The latest round of the Economic Resilience Fund covers operating costs (excluding staff wages) up to 31 August 2021 and the Cultural Recovery Fund until 30 September 2021.

Please refer to the Business Wales website for updates on available funding as well as a range of other advice and support around starting or growing a business, including the Economic Futures Fund.

The Development Bank of Wales continues to provide flexible business finance for companies based in Wales ranging from £1,000 up to £10 million.

All retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £500,000 or below will receive 100% non-domestic rates relief in 2021-22. Read the guidance on the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Rates Relief scheme.

Details of UK Government support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (due to close on 31 September) can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business support - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

What support is available if I am not able to work?

People can apply to receive a £750 payment if they have tested positive for coronavirus or they are required to self-isolate by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service or the NHS COVID-19 App. 

The payment is available to people on a low income who are unable to work from home and would lose income as a result of self-isolating. To be eligible, people must be self-isolating and in receipt of Universal Credit or another specified benefit.

People can also apply to their local authority for a discretionary payment if they are unable to work from home and are losing income and facing financial hardship. Parents and carers of children who have been asked to self-isolate through their education setting are also able to apply.

The Self-Isolation Payment scheme has been live since 16 November 2020. People are able to apply for the payments via their local authority website and claims must be made within 21 days of the period of self-isolation ending. Please see the self-isolation support scheme page to find out more.

People who are self-isolating may also be able to access help from voluntary organisations in their area if they do not have any friends or family who can help them with getting food and other essentials.

Do I have to work from home?

We ask those who can work from home to do so as part of Wales’ overall efforts to control the spread of the virus. It is the most effective way to minimise exposure to coronavirus at the workplace.

It is very important that if people have symptoms of coronavirus, they do not come into work and get a PCR test.

There is an expectation that employers should be as flexible as possible and make adjustments to ensure staff are able to work from home wherever that is possible. This may include issuing staff with laptops or mobile phones and facilitating communication with all.

What are the rules around car sharing?

If you cannot work from home and need to travel to work, you should consider how to do so in the safest way possible. Please refer to the Alert level 0: guidance for the public and the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group Report on plastic screens in taxis and private hire vehicles for more information,

Where it cannot be avoided, you should take steps to minimise the risk of coronavirus such as increasing physical distancing as much as possible, opening windows for the whole journey or for 10 seconds at a time and wear a face covering.

What is the situation in childcare, playwork and education settings?

While we would expect childcare and playwork and education settings to be operating as close to normal as possible they will need to continue to risk assess their provision and ensure they take account of the guidance for their sectors.

Read further guidance:

Childcare and Playwork COVID-19 guidance

Operational guidance for schools and settings

Operational guidance for post-16 learning

We will publish 'The Local COVID-19 Infection Control Decision Framework' at the start of the autumn term for all education settings. The framework will enable education settings to tailor some of the interventions, such as the wearing of face coverings and testing regimes, to reflect the level of risk identified locally. All settings will continue to be supported by public health officials and their local authorities to ensure measures are appropriate to their own circumstances. Each local authority has incident management teams, or similar, in place to bring key experts together to inform decisions.

Will attendees at nightclubs and big events be required to provide Covid Passes or a negative lateral-flow tests to gain entry?

From Monday 11 October People will be required to show the NHS COVID pass to demonstrate the are either fully vaccinated or have had a recent negative lateral flow test, to enter the following venues and events:

  • nightclubs
  • indoor non-seated events of more than 500 people, where people are mixing closely for prolonged periods
  • outdoor non-seated events of over 4,000, where people will be mixing closely for prolonged periods
  • any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance

The NHS COVID pass allows people to prove they have either been fully vaccinated or to provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test.

The system is working and you are already able to access your pass using the NHS digital system which will allow you to produce a COVID pass using a smart phone, a computer or laptop. Access your COVID pass (on nhs.uk).

Further information and guidance will be made available by the Welsh Government in the near future. Read the current guidance on accessing the COVID pass.

Lateral flow tests can be ordered from the Welsh Government website: Get rapid lateral flow COVID-19 tests if you do not have symptoms.

Notwithstanding that requirement, all business and event organisers must still undertake a full coronavirus Risk Assessment and put in place reasonable measures to minimise the risk of coronavirus as they currently do.

For events below the above levels which are pre-ticketed, consideration should be given to asking attendees to complete a pre-attendance health check questionnaire or, whether pre-ticketed or not, asking attendees to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or of being fully vaccinated. 

The use of COVID-Pass and lateral flow tests is one way that risks of infected people entering and spreading coronavirus could be minimised. Organisers may also wish to consider asking all those attending the event site to undertake a voluntary at home rapid COVID-19 test (Lateral Flow Device) in order to help protect themselves, others and the safe delivery of the event.

As attendees, getting both vaccinations if you are able to is extremely important. The vaccine offers significant protections not only for you but also for others, including the people you care about (even if you were unsure and have not yet taken up the offer, it is not too late). You should also consider taking a voluntary at home rapid COVID-19 test (Lateral Flow Device) before and after the event (whether you are vaccinated or not) in order to further minimise risk of transmission. You may wish to consider whether you should refrain from meeting with anyone who is clinically vulnerable for 10 days after the event.

Please remember that if you have any symptoms you must not attend the event in the first place, you should self-isolate and arrange a PCR test as soon as possible.

What are the rules for choirs?

Businesses, employers and other organisations, including activity and event organisers, must undertake a bespoke coronavirus risk assessment of their premises and activities and take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to, and the spread of, coronavirus based on that bespoke risk assessment.

Singing or chanting increases the amount of aerosol expelled into the air from people’s mouths. Reducing the amount of singing or stopping singing can help to reduce the risk of transmission.

If singing or chanting takes place, including as part of a choir, other mitigations should be put in place as part of the covid-specific risk assessment. Practical mitigations could include improving ventilation, moving the activity outdoors, increasing the space between people, or having fewer people present.

The requirement to wear face-coverings could be one for the reasonable measures identified as part of your COVID specific risk assessment. However this will come down to your assessment of all the risks and the suite of mitigations you can practically put in place.

What are the rules for domestic travel into or out of Wales from or to the rest of the UK?

There are no restrictions in place for travel into or out of Wales as long as you are travelling to or from a country within the UK or wider Common Travel Area (Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands).

It is important to understand that the rules here in Wales are slightly different. 

It is a legal obligation in Wales to wear a face covering in all indoor public places. This requirement applies to all public transport (unless it is open air transport), taxis and private vehicle hire and includes indoor areas of transport hubs such as bus stations, railway stations, airports and ferry ports. 

If travelling by public transport we would encourage you to plan your journey. If you wish to avoid busy periods you can use apps, such as Transport for Wales’ capacity checker, to avoid travelling in busy periods. It is a sensible to avoid travelling to and from areas with a higher incidence rates if you can.

We are not introducing any legal restrictions on travel within the UK at this point but it is our clear advice that people should avoid travelling to areas with high prevalence of coronavirus if they can avoid it. There is an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, even if vaccinated, in those areas so you should avoid travelling to them if possible.

Separate rules apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where travel may be restricted to or from different places. You should check the rules before travelling to those countries and Ireland and the Channel Islands as restrictions may be in place.

Do not travel if you have COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating. Get a test and follow the guidance.

We would urge anyone planning a break in Wales from an area with higher rates of coronavirus to test themselves twice weekly, using the free COVID-19 lateral flow tests, before they travel. Only those who have a negative test result and no symptoms of coronavirus should travel. Everyone coming to Wales from areas with higher rates of coronavirus should bring lateral flow testing kits with them to continue regular testing while on holiday.

Lateral flow testing kits are available from local collection points across the UK. More information is available at: Regular rapid lateral flow coronavirus (COVID-19) tests (on www.nhs.uk)

What are the rules for international travel?

Measures to prevent new coronavirus infections being imported, especially new variants, as a result of international travel are important and will remain part of the measures required over the summer at Alert Level 0.

New variants present one of the biggest risks to the success of our vaccination programme and our overall response to bring coronavirus cases down, and keep them, under control. If a variant that our vaccines are not effective against establishes itself in the UK, we could once again see high levels of serious illness, hospitalisations and deaths.

Our strong advice continues to be that people should avoid all non-essential international travel – this is the year to holiday at home. We will continue to work across the UK to agree common safeguards to reduce risks from international travel.

If you do need to travel overseas, check what you will need to consider before you go, and see guidance on the requirements for arriving in Wales.