First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS
Following the most recent three-week review of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 on 10 February, we set out our intention, subject to the public health situation, to relax the legal requirement to wear face coverings in many indoor public places.
Overall, cases of Covid-19 as reported by Public Health Wales, and based mainly on positive PCR tests, have continued to decrease across Wales since 28 January 2022.
The latest results from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey show the percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 has fallen in the week ending 19 February. It is estimated around one in 30 people had Covid-19; this is the lowest level in any UK nation for this period.
For the week ending 18 February, there were 208.8 cases per 100,000 people. Pandemic-related pressures in the NHS remain stable but lower than experienced in earlier waves. As at 22 February, there were 883 Covid-19 related patients occupying a hospital bed (208 lower than a week earlier). There were 11 patients with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 in critical care beds in Wales.
In light of the public health situation, from 28 February, adults and children aged 11 and over will no longer be required to wear face coverings in many indoor places, with the exception of the public areas of health and social care settings; in all retail settings and public transport.
We will continue to recommend in our guidance that wearing face coverings is one of many behaviours which can help keep others safe, especially the most vulnerable.
The legal requirement to wear a face covering, unless exempt, now applies to the following indoor public areas:
- Retail premises (including financial services providers, post offices and shopping centres);
- Premises of veterinary surgeons and animal grooming services;
- Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off points;
- Estate or letting agents, developer sales offices and show homes;
- Close contact services (hair salons and barbers, nail and beauty salons including tanning and electrolysis services, and body piercing and tattooing services);
- Premises used for the provision of takeaway food;
- Premises used for the provision of medical or health services;
- Premises used for the provision of particular social care services: a care home service, a secure accommodation service [or a residential family centre service] (for the protection of residents, the face covering requirement applies in these premises even when the public do not have access to the premises); and
- Public transport and taxis
The amendments mean that face covering requirements no longer apply to particular types of premises that are open to the public (for example, leisure and entertainment premises, and visitor attractions).
Face coverings will no longer be routinely recommended in classrooms but as a minimum they should continue to be worn by staff and secondary age learners in communal areas.
If the public health conditions continue to improve, the legal requirement to wear face coverings in all remaining settings could be lifted by the end of March.
The next three-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 3 March, when the remaining measures at alert level zero will be reviewed.