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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.

Always:

Where possible continue to:

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. The emergence of the omicron variant is also serious development in the ongoing pandemic and we all need to take steps to keep ourselves safe.

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 zero. 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. Two doses of the vaccine is however not enough to protect us against omicron. We all need a booster dose to increase our protection against the virus.

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

How to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

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

To make an appointment for a vaccination or booster, 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.  

For more information on vaccines, see the latest vaccine guidance.

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
  • take a lateral flow test before you visit with other people, including in your home or theirs.

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 well-being 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 a 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?

Care home providers should be enabling and supporting routine indoor visits for people living in care homes and enabling and supporting people to go out from the care home.  If you are visiting a care home you will be asked to comply with the visiting procedures put in place by the care home.  You are also required to have a negative Lateral Flow Test result prior to visiting the care home.   Face coverings do not need to be worn when in the person’s room or the designated visiting area.  You should wear a face covering when moving around the care home or in public areas of the care home.     

Since August 2021 every  care home resident is able 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. 

You should not visit anyone in a care setting if you are required to self-isolate or 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?

Face coverings must be worn in all indoor public places, and public transport, including taxis. 

Despite it not being a legal requirement in the following settings, it is strongly advised that both employees and customers wear a face covering indoors.  This applies  unless they are exempt and when they are not actively eating, drinking or dancing:

  • In hospitality settings such as pubs or nightclubs
  • At a wedding, civil partnership or alternative wedding ceremony or reception.

Some wedding or hospitality venues might ask you to wear a face covering.  They can do this because they have looked at how to manage the risks for their business.

Mixed use venues:Where food or drink is consumed in part of a premises, like a department store cafe, or hotel restaurant, you must wear face coverings on the premises except in the area set aside for eating and drinking.

You are also legally required to wear a face covering in the auditorium of a theatre, cinema or concert hall and the viewing areas of an indoor arena or stadium when not actively eating or drinking.

Read more about face coverings guidance for the public

Read more about face coverings in education guidance.

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.

When should I take a Lateral Flow Test (LFT)?

You can keep yourself and others safe by taking a lateral flow test before you go out even if you don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms. 

If you’re planning to spend time in enclosed spaces, visiting vulnerable people, or travelling elsewhere, take a test before you go. You should take a lateral flow test twice a week to check you don’t have COVID-19. 

1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t have any symptoms but can still infect others. Getting tested regularly is one way to know if you have the virus and could be unknowingly giving it to others.

You’ll get your results in just 30 minutes. Whether it’s positive, negative or void, you should report your test result on gov.uk as soon as you can.

If you test positive, self-isolate immediately. Doing this will help disrupt the transmission and limit the spread of the virus.

Lateral flow tests are available for FREE to everyone in Wales. You can get yours by:

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.

What are the rules on self-isolation?

Self-isolating when you have symptoms, if someone in your household has symptoms or has tested positive or if you have been told to isolate by a contact tracer is one of the most important steps you can take to protect others. Self-isolation helps to prevent people who have tested positive for COVID-19 passing it on to their friends, family and wider community, including their work colleagues. The requirement to self-isolate following a positive test or notification by the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracers (by phone, email or letter) in Wales is a legal requirement.

For further information on Test, Trace, Protect please see the Test, Trace, Protect strategy guidance.

For further information on Self-isolation please see the Self-isolation guidance.

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 or where there is not a general legal requirement to do so
  • show a COVID Pass to gain entry.

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 can I do if I am worried about the safety measures in my workplace?

The coronavirus restrictions impose obligations on people responsible for premises where work takes place to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. The Welsh Government expects that businesses and others understand the severity of the situation we are facing as a society and will take the reasonable steps necessary.

If you cannot work from home, whether that is due to the nature of your job role or because of adverse effects on your mental health and wellbeing and you have concerns that your health and safety is being compromised at work, you should discuss this with your employer or trade union in the first instance. If you are unable to find a resolution, you should contact your trade union or seek advice from Acas.

If you were previously shielding or are worried about being a higher risk of more serious symptoms, you can complete the COVID-19 workforce risk assessment. You should discuss the results with your employer who may take appropriate action. You should also speak to your trade union representative if you are a member of a union.

What support is available for business?

In recognition of the impact of the Omicron variant we announced a financial package of £120m to support retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses across Wales, alongside a £15.4m Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) and a £3m Spectator Support fund.

Please refer to the Business Wales , Arts Council of Wales websites 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 In the 2022-23 financial year, we will provide £116m of targeted non-domestic rates support to businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. Ratepayers will be eligible for 50% off their liability for the financial year. The amount of relief under the Welsh Government’s Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Rates Relief (RLHRR) scheme will be capped at £110,000 per business across Wales. Read the guidance on the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Rates Relief scheme.

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

People can apply to receive a £500 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.

If you cannot work from home, it is strongly recommended that you take lateral flow tests twice a week if you don’t have any symptoms

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, wear a face covering take lateral flow tests twice a week if you don’t have any symptoms

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

School operations: coronavirus

Safe operation guidance: post-16 learning providers

 

Where will I be required to provide proof that I am fully vaccinated or have had a negative lateral-flow tests within the previous 24 hours to gain entry?

Anyone over the age of 18 years old will be required to show the NHS COVID to demonstrate they are either fully vaccinated,  have had a recent negative Lateral Flow test taken within the last 24 hours, or have a specific medical exemption to enter the following venues and events:

  • 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
  • theatres
  • cinemas
  • concert halls
  • nightclubs

Find out how to get your NHS 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.

As attendees, getting both vaccinations (and your booster when invited) 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).

The use of Covid-Pass and lateral flow tests is one way that risks of infected people entering and spreading coronavirus could be minimised. You should undertake a voluntary at home lateral flow test before you go (even if you are fully vaccinated) in order to help protect yourselves, others and for the safe delivery of 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 another part of the UK to test themselves 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?

We no longer advise people to only travel overseas if their journey is essential.

Instead, we ask everyone considering booking trips abroad to think of their own personal and family circumstances and how best they can keep themselves safe if they decide to travel abroad this year. We urge all those who are vulnerable to take extra precautions to stay safe.

If you are planning on travelling overseas:

  • Check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website for the specific entry requirements for the country you are travelling to – these include Covid-19 vaccines and testing requirements.
  • Check the specific requirements for children and young people under 18 in the country you are travelling to.
  • Check the coronavirus situation in the country you are travelling to before you travel.
  • Stay safe while you are away by following the same measures which help keep you safe while you are at home.
  • Check and follow the entry requirements for returning home to the UK 
  • Once you return home, consider taking some extra precautions to keep you, your friends and family safe, including taking a lateral flow test before visiting vulnerable family members; space out visits and social events and if you experience coronavirus symptoms, isolate and take a test.