FIRST Minister Mark Drakeford refused to give a date for all restrictions to be lifted in Wales as he confirmed the next steps to Alert Level 0.

At Friday's Welsh Government coronavirus briefing, he said Wales' measures would continue to be led by the science.

During the briefing he was asked to give a date for a "Freedom Day" in Wales.

“No, I won’t because I’m the First Minister of Wales not a horoscope writer for a daily newspaper,” he replied.

“It’s simply impossible for anybody to peer into the future with coronavirus with the sort of definiteness.

“Of course, the Welsh Government wants as quickly and as safely as we can to lift the level of protections that we are all living with

“Somewhere in the world today the next variant of coronavirus could be brewing. Two-and-a-half months ago none of us had ever heard of the Omicron variant.

“In that period it has swept across our lives and now thankfully is we hope sweeping out of it again.”

However, many restrictions were lifted on Friday and even more will be relaxed on January 28.

What changed on Friday, January 21?

  • Crowds are able to return to outdoor sporting events
  • There will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities and events
  • Outdoor hospitality will be able to operate without the additional measures introduced in December, such as the rule of six and two metre social distancing

What will change on Friday, January 28?

  • Nightclubs can re-open
  • Businesses, employers and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus
  • The general requirement of two metre social distancing in all premises open to the public and workplaces will be removed
  • The rule of six will no longer apply to gatherings in regulated premises, such as hospitality, cinemas and theatres
  • Licensed premises will no longer need to only provide table service and collect contact details
  • Working from home will remain part of advice from the Welsh Government but it will no longer be a legal requirement

The future?

  • Face masks

Mask and face covering restrictions in Wales could be eased in just a matter of weeks.

Along with the potential removal of the covid pass system, a major talking point at Friday's briefing was the situation regarding the wearing of face masks in public settings.

It comes after it was announced that England’s restrictions are being all-but removed by UK prime minister Boris Johnson next week.

In Wales, large scale changes to the covid rules and restrictions have typically been made on a three-week review cycle, and this looks set to continue.

This means, the next review will take place on Thursday, February 10, ahead of a press conference announcing the changes the following day.

Mr Drakeford revealed that up for discussion during the next review is face masks, and whether or not the need for them in all settings might be lifted.

However, he stressed that for many people, continuing to wear the coverings might prove to be a decision for them to make individually.

He said: "We'll review it on February 10."

  • What about the covid pass?

The timeline for the potential removal of the covid pass follows a similar timeline, with February 10 the key date in potentially seeing a change.

But, while the UK Government is outright removing the pass, the first minister said that the Welsh Government is taking a more measured approach.

Mr Drakeford said the Welsh Government will "definitely review it as part of our review on February 10".

"Three weeks is a very long time with regards to covid. If things continue to improve then there would be an active debate on whether the covid pass is still a proportionate part of the measure that we want to have in place.

"We'll keep doing what we always do - we'll look at the measures, we'll ask for advice on whether the covid pass is still part of our defences and if the answer is 'yes' we'll continue with it.

"If things have improved to the point when it's no longer part of necessary measures then we'll respond to that advice as well."

How does all this differ from the rules in England?

The Leader:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced most 'Plan B' rules would be scrapped and England would revert back to 'Plan A'.

This means that from January 26, it will no longer be a legal requirement to wear face coverings, and Covid Passes will not be required in England.

Self isolation rules will remain in place, meaning that those who test positive need to isolate for five days.

Face masks are no longer required in classrooms and 'work from home' advice has been ditched.

In Wales, the 'work from home' policy will remain in place until next Friday.

People will also still need to self isolate for seven days.

Face masks in certain settings will still be needed in Wales, such as in public indoor settings and on public transport.

Covid Passes will be needed in Wales to access large and indoor events, such as sports games and nightclubs.