Q&A: What are the new Covid rules in Wales?

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image captionNumbers able to meet indoors is set to increase

Major changes to restrictions to our daily lives have been announced in Wales, with the majority of rules set to be relaxed in the coming months.

Formal social distancing rules are set to come to an end on 7 August, however people will still have to wear face masks in many public spaces, including shops.

Some of the changes, giving us greater freedom to see friends and family, come into force on Saturday, 17 July, allowing more people to meet up indoors and outdoors.

However, with some laws remaining in place, businesses and individuals run the risk of being fined by police if they break Covid rules.

What are the new rules, and what do they mean for you?

What is alert level one?

On 17 July Wales will fully enter alert level one, with more measures being eased, including more people being allowed to meet in a private home.

The Welsh government previously took the decision to hold back on some parts of the level one changes four weeks ago.

It said this was due to the rise in cases because of the more transmissible Delta variant.

Formal social distancing rules outdoors will come to an end on Saturday, meaning people will no longer have to stay two metres apart outside, including gardens and parks.

People will also be able to hug anyone outside, however the Welsh government is urging caution.

Limits on who you can meet indoors will also change, with any six people, from any household, now able to meet in a house and stay overnight, as well as hug and eat together.

It also means people can go on holiday together. You do not have to have the same people round each time.

However, with social distancing remaining in law indoors – apart from among six people in a private home as stated above – and face masks still a legal requirement, rules here remain stricter than those in England.

What is alert level zero?

On 7 August the majority of Covid restrictions are set to go in Wales – if the coronavirus situation allow.

Limits on who you can meet indoors and outdoors will end, with people allowed to have anyone around their home and have physical contact with them.

However, while social distancing laws will end, it will be down to individual businesses, such as pubs and bars, to decide their own rules after doing risk assessments.

Face masks will be required in shops, on public transport and for healthcare, but not in pubs and restaurants or schools.

How many people can I meet in Wales?

At present, groups of up to 30 – not counting children under 11 or carers – can meet outside, including in private gardens and outdoor hospitality.

Three homes can form an extended household. Members of extended households are able to meet indoors and have physical contact. You can stay at each other’s homes overnight and in holiday accommodation together.

Most people can only be in one extended household and anyone who leaves should wait 10 days before joining another one.

A fourth home made up of only a single adult, or single adult with caring responsibilities, is allowed to join an extended household.

From 17 July, up to six people can meet indoors in private homes and holiday accommodation, without having to physically distance – meaning you can hug – there are no rules on it having to be the same six people each time.

Any number of people will be able meet up outdoors or at events.

From 7 August, there will be no legal limits on how many people can meet indoors, including private homes, or outdoors.

Who can I see at a pub or restaurant in Wales?

image copyrightPA Media
image captionPubs and restaurants in Wales could open outdoors from 26 April

Currently, six people from six households are allowed to meet up indoors or outdoors at a pub or restaurant.

Masks have to be worn when people are moving around a venue but can be removed when seated.

While rules on who can come around your house will change from 17 July, rules for pubs will not and only six people will be able to meet.

From 7 August, masks will not be required in pubs, cafes and restaurants and social distancing laws will go.

Businesses will instead be required to do risk assessments to decide what measures are needed in their venue to keep people safe

That could still include physical distancing, but the two-metre rule will no longer be obligatory.

Do I still have to wear a mask in Wales?

Unlike in England, the requirement to wear a mask is not ending in Wales, although it is being changed in some places.

From 7 August, masks will still be mandatory on public transport, shops and other indoor public areas.

The exception to this rule is in pubs, restaurants and schools.

What about weddings and funerals in Wales?

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionOutdoor wedding receptions can have more guests than indoor venues

Currently, outdoor wedding receptions are in the same category as outdoor concerts and sporting events, which allow a maximum number of 4,000 standing or 10,000 seated attendees.

However, for wedding ceremonies, where guest numbers are usually far lower, there is no definitive limit, with those decided following a risk assessment.

There are other rules in place though – such as only the bride and groom being able to take part in the first dance, social distancing and masks when people are not seated or eating.

While a small band, string group or choir can perform as people walk down the aisle or at a wedding reception, guidance says loud music should be avoided, performers should be socially distanced, and brass and wind instruments should not be used.

However, with concerns about the virus being spread through droplets, those in congregations are still being told not to sing along.

From 17 July, up to 1,000 people can attend an indoor wedding if they are seated, or 200 standing.

There will be no limit on the number who can attend an outdoor event. Outdoor events and venues will also have greater flexibility around physical distancing.

From 7 August there will be no limits on indoor or outdoor event numbers.

Also, with social distancing laws coming to an end, it will be down to the wedding venue, under their risk assessment, whether guests still have to stay apart, meaning you may be able to have more loved-ones at your ceremony, depending on where you get married.

Can we hug in Wales?

Yes and no.

Some families and friends were able to hug for the first time in months after further easing of restrictions last month.

Three households – plus another living on their own – can form an extended household to meet and have contact indoors.

Hugs are restricted to extended households only. You should not hug anyone who is not a part of yours, unlike in England and Scotland.

Although you can now visit a pub or restaurant in a group of six from six different households, you are not allowed to hug anyone who is not in your extended household and should maintain social distancing.

However, from 17 July, people will be able to hug those who come to their home – up to six people in a private home – however the Welsh government is urging caution.

From 7 August, social distancing laws will end and you can hug, but caution is again advised.

Can I travel to and from Wales?

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Shortly before the Easter holidays, travel restrictions changed, allowing people to journey outside their local area for the first time in months to see loved ones and to go on holiday.

UK government advice is that from 17 May, people in England can holiday abroad in a small number of countries.

But the Welsh government has said people should only go abroad for “essential purposes”, and First Minister Mark Drakeford has urged people to stay in Wales this year.

Since 24 May, a “paper-based vaccination status” has been available for people in Wales who have had two doses of vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires Covid vaccination proof.

People can now download a PDF from the NHS stating their vaccination status.

Double-jabbed travellers returning to Wales from amber list countries will no longer have to quarantine for 10 days, in line with England and Scotland.

But people travelling to Wales who did not have an NHS-administered Covid vaccine will still have to self-isolate.

Can I watch live music and comedy in Wales?

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image captionOne of the first big gigs in Wales this summer was a Feeder’s open air concert in Newport

Large outdoor events, like concerts, football matches and organised runs are able to go ahead for crowds of up to 4,000 people standing or 10,000 people sitting down.

Organisers must undertake risk assessments and put in place measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including social distancing.

Live music events were allowed to take place across Wales after the green light was given for them to resume on 27 May.

However, the guidance does not currently apply to nightclubs, which can’t open until 7 August.

Indoor music and comedy venues are able to take groups of six people from six households, but must use one-way systems and follow ventilation guidelines.

This will change on Saturday, 17 July, when any number of people will be able to meet up at a venue.

Up to 1,000 people seated and 200 people standing can attend organised indoor events.

All organisations and businesses will have to carry out Covid risk assessments which determine what reasonable measures are needed to be put in place to keep workers and customers safe.

From 7 August, nightclubs will be able to open.

What about sport and exercise?

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From Monday, 7 June large sporting activities such as running groups were able to take place outdoors again.

Gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres, community centres and fitness facilities have been able to open since 3 May.

Swimming lessons, exercise classes for up to 15 adults and children’s indoor activities also resumed from the same date, but only if they were organised and in a regulated setting.

Organised outdoor activities – including for adults, such as sport activities limited to 30 people, were able to resume from 26 April.

From 7 August, social distancing laws will no longer apply but masks will still be required in indoor public spaces like leisure centres.

You do not have to wear a mask when exercising.

What are the Covid rules in schools in Wales?

All primary pupils and those in exam years began returning to school on 15 March, while schools had the flexibility to bring Year 10 and 12 pupils back.

All pupils returned after the Easter break for face-to-face learning, and from 12 April all post-16 students returned to sixth-form and college.

From 17 July, up to 30 groups of children can stay overnight in residential activity centres.

From 7 August, with the end of most social distancing laws, there will be an expectation that schools and colleges “will return to as near normality as possible”.

Masks will no longer be recommended for use in the classroom from September.

What are the Covid rules in shops in Wales?

image copyrightReuters
image captionAll shops were able to open from 12 April

From 15 March, hairdressers and barbers were able to reopen for appointments.

From 22 March, non-essential aisles in supermarkets were able to reopen, as well as garden centres.

All other shops, including all close-contact services such as beauty salons, were able to reopen from 12 April, the same date as in England.

From 7 August, social distancing laws will no longer apply but businesses must carry out their own risk assessment to keep people safe.

Masks must still be worn in shops in Wales, unlike in England.

Can I visit care homes?

Indoor care home visits were permitted for a single visitor under changes adopted on 13 March.

From 24 May anyone can arrange a visit, with two people allowed to attend at the same time.

However this is subject to a negative Covid test, and while relatives can hold hands with their loved one, strict safety measures remain in place.

The Welsh government said the “ultimate decision on whether, and in what circumstances care home visits take place, rests with the individual provider”.

Can I go on holiday in the UK?

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image captionForeign travel is still not allowed without a reasonable excuse

You have been able to travel anywhere in the UK since 12 April, subject to restrictions in force in the other nations.

It also means people from other parts of the UK can come here.

All holiday accommodation was able to fully reopen from Monday, 17 May.

Can I go to the cinema in Wales?

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Entertainment venues including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor-play centres and areas, casinos, amusement arcades, and theatres can open after restrictions were lifted on 17 May.

Cinemas, theatres concert halls and sports grounds can sell food and drink as long as it is consumed in a seated area for watching the performance.

At theatres, audiences may expect to see some changes, with government guidance urging directors to have smaller cast numbers, to allow social distancing on stage, and fewer musicians in orchestra pits.

Interval ice cream and pick and mix may also not be part of the theatre experience for some time, after the Welsh government advised venues not to sell them to avoid queues in parts of theatres.

Indoor visitor attractions, including museums and galleries, are also allowed to welcome back customers.

Outdoor visitor attractions, including funfairs, amusement parks and theme parks reopened from 26 April.

From 17 July, there will be no limits on the number of people who can meet in public places or at events.

From 7 August, social distancing laws will end, although masks will still be required in indoor public spaces such as museums, cinemas and theatres.

When can students go back to university?

image captionIt has been a tough year for students in Wales

University campuses in Wales reopened on 12 April for students to return for some face-to-face lectures and seminars, with some lessons continuing online.

But the student experience has been very different for those studying in 2020 and 2021 so far, with campuses closed, lectures cancelled, and nights out banned for much of the year.

In January, a petition called for the UK government to reduce university student tuition fees from £9,250 to £3,000, gaining more than 400,000 signatures online.

Although there was no specific mention of universities in the alert level zero announcement, as with other areas of society, from 7 August they will no longer be subject to social distancing laws.

However masks will remain for public spaces at universities.

What about sporting events?

Larger outdoor organised gatherings and events, like football matches and sporting activities, can go ahead for crowds of up to 4,000 people non-seated and 10,000 people seated from Monday, 7 June.

The Welsh government said attendance should be strictly controlled and a testing protocol and risk assessment must be be individually tailored for events.

From 7 August, social distancing laws will end. Masks will still be required in indoor public spaces.

What are the Covid rules about worship in Wales?

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMuslims gathered to perform the Eid Al-Fitr prayer which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, at Cardiff Castle

Places of worship may open for communal worship, including prayers, devotions or meditations.

Congregation members are now allowed to sing or chant while wearing masks, and they can also play instruments.

Currently, marriages, civil partnerships, alternative wedding ceremonies and funerals are allowed in places of worship, but numbers of people who can attend are limited.

From 17 July, up to 1,000 people seated and 200 people standing can attend organised events indoors.

This will change once social distancing laws end on 7 August but venues will have to carry out risk assessments and decide on measures to ensure people’s safety.

An Eid-al-Fitr festival celebrating the end of Ramadan at Cardiff Castle was one of the piloted events by the Welsh government. Up to 500 people were able to attend.

Can I have a driving lesson?

image captionDriving lessons resumed on 12 April

Driving lessons in Wales and England restarted on 12 April, and driving tests resumed on 22 April.

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