Nightclubs are set to reopen and all restrictions on meeting others are to be removed in Wales, in the biggest easing of coronavirus measures since the pandemic began.
First Minister Mark Drakeford stressed that the change “does not mean the end of restrictions and a free-for-all” when he confirmed that Wales will move to alert Level 0 on Saturday.
Face masks will continue to be required in most indoor public places, including on public transport, in shops and in healthcare settings, but will no longer be a legal requirement in hospitality settings where food and drink is served.
The Welsh Government has also announced that the country will replicate changes to restrictions on international travel being made in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged for “patience” from the travel industry and holidaymakers, after he was told to open up travel “more quickly” to protect jobs.
Mr Johnson told broadcasters: “We want people to get away if they possibly can, we are just saying that obviously this year is going to be a bit trickier, we just ask for a bit of patience but we’ve got to balance the two objectives.”
Elsewhere, it has been announced that live events are set to be covered by a Government-backed £750 million insurance scheme in a bid to stop a second summer of mass cancellations due to the pandemic.
Industry figures have been calling for such a scheme to help them recover from the pandemic and be able to plan events without the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak leaving them out of pocket.
The Government has announced it has partnered with Lloyd’s to deliver the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme as part of the Treasury’s Plan for Jobs.
The Government will act as a “reinsurer” and offer a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer products to cover organisers if state restrictions shut events down.
But Labour’s shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens called it the “bare minimum”, adding: “Anything less than lockdown, like the reintroduction of social distancing or artists or crew having to self-isolate, isn’t covered.
“Yet again the Government has dithered, delayed and come up with a solution that doesn’t address the problem.”
Meanwhile, in a bid to drive up the number of young people getting the vaccine, its benefits will be broadcast to partygoers in nightclubs.
Veteran venues including Ministry of Sound and Heaven will help push messaging surrounding the jab at their venues, while Heaven will also host a vaccine event on Sunday.
The Department of Health and Social Care said more than two-thirds of young adults aged 18 to 29 have received one dose of the vaccine but there have been concerns over the uptake of the jab among younger people.
Latest Government figures show a further 86 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, taking the UK total to 130,086.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 155,000 deaths registered in the UK where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate.
As of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 30,215 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.
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