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Introduction and summary

This guidance 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. We have sought to keep any differences with other parts of the UK to a minimum and are working closely with the other nations. But it is important to understand that the rules here in Wales are different. Regardless of where you normally live, it is important everyone living, working or visiting Wales follows the rules that apply here in Wales. 

What legal requirements remain?

In line with the latest scientific and public health advice on responding to the omicron variant, these are the key rules in place in law. In these respects collective responsibility is needed rather than personal choice.

  1. Businesses, employers and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to, and the spread of, coronavirus. From 26 December all businesses and services are required to put in place measures to maintain 2m social distancing, this may include measures such as physical barriers and one way systems.
  2. Everyone must continue to self-isolate for 7 days if they test positive for COVID-19. You should take a lateral flow test (LFT) on day 6 and day 7. If either LFT is positive, you should remain in isolation until 2 negative LFTs or after day 10, whichever is sooner.
  3. Adults and children over 11 must continue to wear face-coverings in indoor public places, including in hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs or cafes, where they should be worn except when seated. People must work from home where reasonably practicable for them to do so. Employers must allow or require their employees to work from home unless there is a clear business or well-being need that would make working from home impracticalwhere reasonable, in line with their duties to take reasonable measures.
  4. Organised events and gatherings must not take place for more than:
    • 30 people indoors
    • 500 people outdoors, this does not include those participating in a team sport event, meaning 500 spectators can be present
  5. Licenced premises must ensure there is physical distancing between individual households or groups of up to 6 people from a maximum of 6 households (not including children under 11 from any of those households or carers of anyone present) at their premises and must provide table service only.
  6. You must not meet with more than 5 others in pubs, cafes and restaurants. Additional measures, including table service, will be required in all licensed premises. A maximum of 30 people can attend indoor activities and a maximum of 500 people max for outdoor activities.

Gathering with other people

You can meet others in private homes, We are advising you to  think carefully about the number of people you meet. If you are meeting with different groups of people at different times, you should leave at least a day between those gatherings.

There will continue to be a separate offence for large gatherings of more than:

  • 30 people indoors; or
  • 500 people outdoors, this includes in private homes and gardens. This does not include those participating in a team sport event, meaning 500 spectators can be present

We are also advising everyone to take a lateral flow test before you meet anyone socially, whether you are meeting them inside or outside. If the LFT is positive, you should report your result and follow self-isolation guidance immediately. You are no longer advised to have a follow-up PCR test to confirm the result, unless you are in a clinically vulnerable group, which may need early access to treatment or have been advised to do so as part of a research or surveillance programme.

Please remember, if you have any symptoms you should continue to test using PCR and follow self-isolation guidance where applicable.

We are more likely to catch coronavirus from – and pass it on to – people we are in close contact with every day. The omicron variant spreads particularly easily. The safest thing to do is to avoid contact with other people you do not live with. We would strongly recommend you limit who you have in your home and consider forming an exclusive household with a limited number of other households.

People are asked to consider not just what they can do – what the law allows them to do – but what they should do – what is the right thing to do to minimise the spread of coronavirus. In particular, we ask you to:

  • please try and be restrained in how many different people you see. It is better to see the same five people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally
  • If you are meeting with different groups of people, please try to space out those visits by at least 24 hours.
  • please maintain 2 metre physical distance, including outdoors, from anyone you do not live with
  • avoid doing activities that might increase the risk of transmission (for example shouting to be heard over loud music, or singing in close proximity)
  • meet people you do not live with outside if possible. If meeting inside, make sure the room is well ventilated.

Restaurants, cafes and pubs

Venues are required to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. For example:

  • customers will be encouraged to pre-book with details of all members of the group.
  • contact details may be required for contact tracing purposes
  • entry to the premises will be controlled
  • licenced premises, such as pubs, will be providing table service only
  • all food and drink should be consumed at tables
  • physical distancing measures will be applied, such as tables being spaced out
  • face coverings must be worn other than when seated to eat or drink

You can visit outdoor and indoor spaces of licensed premises such as cafés, restaurants, pubs and bars with people you live with.

However, if you wanted to visit licensed premises with people you do not live with, that gathering must not contain no more than 6 people from up to 6 households at any one time (excluding any carers or children under 11 from any of these households).

Wedding, Civil partnership or alternative wedding receptions and wakes

There are no legal limits on the number of people who can attend a wedding, civil partnership or alternative wedding receptions and wake. However, hospitality rules will apply and reasonable measures must be taken to minimise the risk of exposure to and spread of coronavirus.

You should aim to keep 2m physical distance from anyone you do not live with as much as possible.

It is strongly advised that you take a lateral flow test on the day of the event, whether you are fully vaccinated or not. 

If the LFT is positive, you should report your result and follow self-isolation guidance immediately. You are no longer advised to have a follow-up PCR test to confirm the result, unless you are in a clinically vulnerable group, which may need early access to treatment or have been advised to do so as part of a research or surveillance programme.

Please remember, if you have any symptoms you should continue to test using PCR and follow self-isolation guidance where applicable.

Likewise, if you are ill and/or displaying symptoms you should self-isolate and take a PCR test.

Organised activities

Organised activities encompass a broad range of activities that can be attended by people of any age. This includes activities such as exercise classes, meetings of religious groups and support groups. During these activities, up to 500 people of any age will be able to gather from a mix of households outdoors (this does not include those participating in a team sport event, meaning 500 spectators can be present) and up to 30 people from that mix of households will be able to gather indoors.

Organised activities do not include activities such as parties or wider social gatherings of families and friends. Organised outdoor activities must not take place in the gardens or grounds of private homes and alcohol must not be consumed as part of the activity.

An organised activity must be organised by a business, public body or a charitable, benevolent, educational or philanthropic institution, a club or political organisation, or the national governing body of a sport or other activity. The organiser of the activity must meet requirements in the Regulations to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus and must carry out a risk assessment.

There are different rules for sporting events.

Organised activities for the development and wellbeing of children

Organised activities for the development and well-being of children are permitted. These activities could include a range of clubs or classes attended by children under 18, such as sports clubs, parent and baby/toddler groups, youth groups and religious groups. They do not include activities such as children’s birthday parties or wider social gatherings of families and friends beyond the existing arrangements for meeting other people outlined in this guidance.

While these activities are not part of a child’s formal education, they may have some wider benefits related to learning and development. These activities are usually run by a business, a public body or charitable institution, a club, or the national governing body of a sport or other activity.

The operators of these activities must take all reasonable measures to manage risk and maintain social distancing. There are currently no set limits on the numbers of children under 18 that can take part in these activities. However, organisers should ensure they limit the number of places to that which can be safely accommodated in the space available.

Organisers should avoid running consecutive activities, and give time for all those participating in one session to have left the area before starting another. This is important to reduce levels of transmission. Organisers should remain present for the duration of the activity.

Many parents or guardians may want to stay in the area while their children are participating in these activities. Where this happens parents should not use this as an opportunity to gather or mix, and should continue to follow the rules on social distancing. Parents and organisers should also be mindful of the use of face coverings for those over 11. While it is not mandatory for face coverings to be worn outside, organisers should consider whether or not they should be used in spaces where it is difficult to maintain social distancing.

For parent and baby/ toddler groups parents will need to be in attendance during the group session. Parents should not use this as an opportunity to gather or mix before or after the session, and should continue to follow the rules on social distancing.

Sporting events

Spectators are not permitted to attend large or elite sporting events. For smaller sporting activity please see. Organised activities and Organised activties for the development and wellbeing of children.

For team sport fixtures, such as community football or rugby match, the simple rule is no more than:

  • 30 people indoors
  • 500 people outdoors, this does not include those participating in a team sport event, meaning 500 spectators can be present.

What are the main things I can do to lower my risk and the risk I might put others in?

Key protective behaviours can lower your risk of exposure to coronavirus, and the extent to which you could put others at risk. These are particularly effective when a number are in place in combination. These are set out in more detail later in this guidance, but key elements include:

We are asking everyone to think carefully about what is the most sensible thing for you to do to protect your family, friends and your community, rather than thinking only about what the law allows you to do.

Coronavirus will continue to infect people and, in those who are unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated, the risk of becoming seriously ill or needing hospital treatment is still significant and is much higher than for those who are fully vaccinated.

How coronavirus spreads

The most common ways coronavirus is spread are:

  • through the air as an aerosol which can stay in the air for a long time
  • through the air by droplets which can spread nearby and onto surfaces
  • by direct contact with an infected person
  • by direct contact with a contaminated surface

This helps us understand what kind of places and situations are most risky. So places where we might come into close contact with a lot of other people will have a higher risk. Similarly, places where ventilation is poor will mean that stale air is not removed and fresh air is not introduced, giving coronavirus the opportunity to build up. Places where people are breathing more heavily can also provide opportunities for coronavirus to spread further. So the following places are particularly risky:

  • indoor places where ventilation is poor
  • indoor places where people, particularly lots of people, are together for a long time
  • any place, particularly indoors, where people have close contact with others
  • any place, particularly indoors, where people are breathing heavily close to others or over extended periods, such as through strenuous exercise, loud singing, chanting, or shouting, coughing or sneezing

The different ways coronavirus spreads are illustrated in the diagram below:

Image
Smaller infected droplets travel further and remain airborne longer, improve ventilation to reduce risk.

What are the most effective ways we can all lower risks from coronavirus?

The vaccination programme is the most effective way of protecting yourself and those around you from coronavirus. 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.

The most effective way to minimise risks, especially serious illness or hospitalisation, is to get vaccinated. If you have not had your first or second dose please make arrangements to come and start your course of vaccines as soon as possible. It is never too late to get your vaccine and walk-in centres are open. 

There are different ways to minimise risk in addition to vaccination. These are often described as the “hierarchy of controls”. A more detailed description aimed at businesses, employers and other organisations is provided in the guidance for businesses and employers.

In simple terms these controls can be described in order of effectiveness:

Avoid or remove the risk

This is the most effective way to minimise risks. For example:

  • work from home or meet people virtually
  • self-isolate if you have symptoms and get a PCR test. Stay at home if you are ill
  • consider routine, regular testing using rapid lateral flow tests even if you have no symptoms

Change the risky activity for a less risky one

For example:

  • meeting outdoors instead of indoors
  • keeping physical distance from other people where possible
  • avoid crowded areas, especially indoors and where ventilation is poor

Try to lower the risk by changing the way the activity takes place

For example:

  • improving ventilation by opening windows and doors
  • cleaning surfaces regularly
  • washing hands regularly

Lower any remaining risks of exposure

This measure should be used in combination with the above rather than on its own. For example:

  • wearing face coverings
  • wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves or eye/face protection

The ‘Keeping Wales Safe’ public campaign includes accessible additional information on the latest scientific evidence on how to limit the spread of coronavirus.

How to reduce my risk

It’s important to remember that almost 1-in-3 people with coronavirus don’t show symptoms. Whenever we come together, there’s always a risk that the virus will come too.

Fresh air and ventilation

Fresh air can help to reduce the spread. Coronavirus spreads through airborne particles when we breathe and talk, and even more when laughing, shouting or exercising. Doing any of these things inside, in a poorly ventilated space, increases the risk even more. Being outdoors, or opening windows and doors if you’re inside, can help to decrease the number of infectious particles hanging around. If you invite friends, family or others, such as a tradesperson, into your home, open the windows to let fresh air in and encourage them to wear a face covering.

Outdoors is safer than indoors

If you meet up with someone in your garden, you can reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading by not sharing crockery or cutlery, keeping social distancing and ensuring no-one goes inside. Allowing someone inside your home, even for a few minutes, increases the risk of catching or spreading the virus for everyone in your household.

Reduce the number of people you meet

We all want to meet our friends again. But think about what is the most sensible thing for you to do to protect your family, friends and your community. Limiting how many different people you see helps keep you, your family, and friend’s safe. It’s less risky to see the same one or two people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally. By only meeting a few people, everyone’s contacts are less and the virus will find it harder to spread.  

Reduce face-to-face time with other people

The main way coronavirus spreads is through close contact with an infected person. So meeting face-to-face increases the risk of getting and giving coronavirus – the shorter the time, the lower the risk.

Social distancing is one of the best ways to stop coronavirus spreading

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. We all forget sometimes - if someone is too close while you are out and about, be kind and try asking them to step back. Don’t be offended if someone asks you to keep your distance too – we can all help each other through. Choosing not to share a lift, choosing less busy times to visit places, and using a face covering all help to reduce the risk to you and others.  

If someone needs to visit your home for work reasons, keep your distance and open the windows to let fresh air in.

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

Washing your hands

Washing your hands with soap and water or regularly using hand sanitiser when you don’t have access to soap and water helps stop the virus spreading. Our hands touch many surfaces throughout the day and this can help the virus to move around. If you have the virus on your hands you can transfer it to other surfaces or to your eyes, nose or mouth. This is one way that viruses can enter your body and infect you. Washing or sanitising your hands removes viruses and other germs, so you are less likely to spread them or to become infected.

What should you think about when planning to take part in an activity?

Do not attend if you are unwell. If you have COVID-19 Symptoms, you should self-isolate immediately and take a PCR test.

You should take a  lateral flow test before you go if you don’t have any symptoms and on days when you’re seeing other people, even if you are fully vaccinated.

There are some additional things it is useful to consider:

Who am I going to be meeting with and mixing with?

If others are fully vaccinated the risks will be lower. It is also strongly advised that you take a lateral flow test before you meet with anyone you do not live with, whether fully vaccinated or not.

If you are meeting with people who are vulnerable or have been unable to be vaccinated you may want to be careful in the 10 days prior to meeting, such as limiting your contacts and maintaining physical distancing.

What is the risk to others?

You should think about who you will see after the activity you are planning to take part in. If you are doing a higher risk activity like visiting a crowded indoor space , you may want to limit your contact with others for 10 days afterwards in particular those that might be at most risk. If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, please see Self-Isolation guidance for advice on what you should do. You should not visit anyone in hospital or a care setting for 10 days after higher risk activities.

What protective measures have been put in place where I am going?

All public places have a legal duty to put in place measures to minimise risks, which may include asking to provide contact information as part of Test, Trace, Protect. If a place has taken protective measures and clearly communicates them you can see the risks are being managed compared to a place that does not.

Working from home

People must work from home where reasonably practicable for them to do so. Employers must enable, allow or require their employees to work from home unless there is a clear business or wellbeing need that would make working from home impractical, in line with their duties to take reasonable measures.

Working from home is the most effective way of minimising the risk of exposure to coronavirus in workplaces. Employers must be flexible and make adjustments wherever that is possible to enable home working. For example issuing staff with IT equipment (laptops, monitors, keyboards), office furniture, mobile phones and facilitating communication across locations.

Workers must not be required or placed under pressure to return to a workplace setting if there is not a clearly demonstrated business need for them to do so. If alternative arrangements could meet the majority of business needs, employees must be allowed to work from home in order to minimise the risk of exposure to or spread of coronavirus. This should be discussed with staff, which may be via their trades unions where appropriate. Employers should also consult guidance from ACAS and the HSE about their duties to home workers, including in relation to health and safety.

Employers must also consider adverse impacts on an individual’s wellbeing. This includes people who are at increased risk or are clinically extremely vulnerable (who were previously advised to shield and who still need to take high levels of precaution), or because returning to the workplace would cause them severe anxiety. This is particularly the case where work would require them to be in regular or sustained contact with other people or to be share a poorly ventilated space for long periods.

Equally, there may be staff who wish to remain in or return to workplace settings as working from home is adversely impacting their mental health and wellbeing. In these circumstances, the wellbeing of staff is a relevant consideration. Although employers’ first priority should be minimising the risk of exposure to coronavirus, this should be balanced against the detrimental effect working from home may be having on an employee’s wellbeing. In these circumstances if employees in this position can return to the workplace setting without a significant increase in the risk of exposure to coronavirus, this should be allowed. In considering this, employers should consider the extent to which the employee returning to the workplace would come into close contact with others both within the workplace but also in travelling to and from work. All discussions and the decision should be fully documented within the Covid-19 risk assessment.

Employers could be fined up to £10,000 for failing to allow you to work from home where reasonably practicable to do so.

What are the rules on self-isolation?

Everyone self-isolating at home when they have symptoms or have been told to isolate by a contact tracer is one of the most important remaining protections. The requirement to self-isolate following a positive test and notification by the Test Trace Protect system in Wales is a legal requirement.

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

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

Face coverings

Do I need to wear a face covering?

Yes, in all indoor premises to which the public have access.

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 advice applies unless they are exempt or are seated at a table:

  • in hospitality settings, such as pubs
  • at a wedding, civil partnership or alternative wedding ceremony or reception
  • in the auditorium of a theatre, cinema or concert hall and the viewing areas of an indoor arena or stadium

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 when seated to eat or drink.

It is mandatory for anyone in Wales to wear a face covering in all other indoor premises that are open to the public and on public transport (including taxis), other than public transport which is open to the air, such as on the open air deck of a ferry or water taxi. This includes a very wide range of locations, such as shops and shopping centres, places of worship, hairdressers and salons, cinemas and museums, gyms and leisure centres.

However, there is an exemption for those under the age of 11, for those who cannot wear a face covering because of disability or the need to communicate, such as when lip-reading, and when anyone is seated and consuming food or drink on a premises. Where only part of a premises is available for consumption of food/drink, the requirement for you to wear a face covering will still apply in the other parts of the premises.

Who does the requirement apply to?

It applies to everyone aged 11 and over, unless an exception applies. Children under 11 do not have to wear face coverings.

It applies to staff working in indoor public areas and to members of the public entering those public areas.

Please visit our guidance (face coverings: guidance for public) for further information, including suitable face coverings, how to care for re-usable face coverings, how to safely dispose of disposable face coverings and if you think you may be exempt from wearing a face covering.

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