Mark Drakeford set to announce Wales is to move to Alert Level Zero over next fortnight

First Minister Mark Drakeford is set to drop the Covid rules brought in across Wales after Christmas.

The restrictions in Wales were tightened on Boxing Day with no more than 50 people able to attend sporting events.

Meanwhile social distancing and a rule of six were imposed at hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants. Nightclubs were closed the next day.

It added extra financial pressure on already struggling sectors hit by a wave of cancellations due to virus fears in the run up to Christmas day.

The measures were taken after the Omicron variant had fuelled a spike in cases.

But while hospitalisations have increased it has not been close to the rate seen during previous surges – and the number of people needing intensive care has remained relatively stable.

Wales also has the most successful booster programme of the UK nations – with the percentage boosted well ahead of England, which doesn’t have any extra restrictions.

This has added to the pressure for Welsh Government to ease rules on this side of the border.

With the hope Wales has seen its peak in cases First Minister Mark Drakeford will set out how Wales plans to move back to Alert Level Zero if the public health situation continues to improve.

He will set out the two-week plan to ease the alert level two restrictions – with full details on the timetable to be announced on Friday.

It should mean all the restrictions added since Christmas are removed.

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Welsh Government said: “The Welsh Government is able to start removing the protections put in place in response to the Omicron wave, thanks to the support of people across Wales and the successful booster campaign – more than 1.75m people have had the extra booster dose.

“The move to alert level zero will be phased, with restrictions on outdoor activities being removed first.”

This will mean the re-start of events like Parkrun and also that Six Nations matches in Cardiff can be played in front of thousands of rugby fans as well as Wrexham AFC supporters returning to the Racecourse.

It will be a major relief to hospitality.

UKHospitality Wales director David Chapman said the rules had been punishing for the sector and that this news was welcomed.

He added that they had been trading 25% below venues in England – which were also struggling – and that extra money on top of the £120m package should be found to support businesses in the sector.

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