Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates
Autumn COVID-19 booster roll-out begins in Wales
The roll-out of the autumn Covid-19 booster has started (September 1) in Wales with care home residents and staff across Wales the first to receive the vaccine.
Everyone who is eligible for the autumn booster will be invited for a vaccination by their health boards. Invitations will be issued in order of vulnerability, with everyone eligible being offered a booster vaccine by December.
Autumn booster invitations issued to eligible adults in Wales
Eligible adults in Wales have begun to be invited for their COVID-19 autumn booster this week.
The roll-out will begin at the start of September 2022 to help boost the immunity of those at higher risk from COVID-19, improving their protection against severe illness and to protect the NHS over winter 2022 to 23.
Test Trace Protect (TTP) Transition
In view of the latest evidence, including decreasing prevalence, from August 1 we will pause provision of free lateral flow tests to members of the public with symptoms of COVID-19. This is consistent with our long-term COVID-19 transition from pandemic to endemic for Wales, published in March. It also ensures we safeguard resources for potential future waves during autumn/winter that may, alongside colder weather and other respiratory viruses, provide additional challenges and risks.
Chief Medical Officer reminds people of advice to stop spread of coronavirus
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Sir Frank Atherton is reminding people to follow simple steps to protect themselves from the risk of catching COVID-19.
This includes getting vaccinated, wearing face coverings in crowded indoor settings and taking a lateral flow test if you have symptoms.
His comments come as coronavirus cases are once again increasing in Wales. The latest ONS figures estimate one person in every 30 has COVID-19.
Cases of the omicron subtypes BA.4 and BA.5 have increased across the UK, with BA.5 now the dominant form of coronavirus across Wales.
Reminder for people to get their spring booster in Wales
People eligible for the spring COVID-19 booster are being urged to get vaccinated before the cut-off date of Thursday June 30.
Since late March, people aged 75 and over, care home residents, and anyone aged 12 or over who is immunosuppressed have been able to get their spring booster to increase their level of protection against COVID-19.
Wales extends COVID-19 testing throughout July
The Health Minister, Eluned Morgan has today (Friday June 24) confirmed that access to free LFD tests will be extended in Wales until July 31 2022.
Tests will be available to the public that are showing symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature a new, continuous cough, a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), alongside free access for people visiting someone eligible for new COVID-19 treatments.
The announcement comes following a rise in cases, with The Office for National Statistics recent survey reporting an increase in cases across the UK. An estimated 1 in 45 people in Wales currently have COVID-19. The emergence of the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants are also contributing to this increase as they become more dominant across the UK.
Coronavirus regulations to end in Wales
After more than 2 years of living with coronavirus regulations, these will expire on Monday May 30 when the requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings ends.
But the Welsh Government will continue to recommend people take simple steps to protect their health – including wearing face coverings in health and care settings – as Wales moves beyond the emergency response to the pandemic.
Face coverings retained in health and social care settings
Latest review of the coronavirus regulations
The legal requirement to wear face coverings in health and social care settings will remain in place for the next 3 weeks, offering ongoing protection to those most vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus.
But the legal requirement for businesses to undertake specific coronavirus risk assessments will end on Monday 18 April. Businesses will continue to be encouraged to take steps to operate in a Covid-safe manner.
The next 3-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 5 May.
Changes to testing and social distancing in care homes
A new Social Care Transition Plan is being published today, which will set out new arrangements for care homes between April and June.
The Social Care Transition Plan - statement by the Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan
Changes to Test Trace Protect service
A timetable for changes to Wales’ Test Trace Protect service is being published today as part of wider plans to gradually move beyond the emergency response to the pandemic. The changes to Test Trace Protect are focused on protecting the most vulnerable, limiting their risk of infection and ensuring testing capacity is maintained to monitor outbreaks and detect any new variants.
The main changes to Test Trace Protect include:
- From March 28, people will be strongly advised to self-isolate if they have COVID. Self-isolation support payments of £500 will continue to be available until June.
- March 30 is the last day the public will be able to book a PCR test if they have symptoms.
- From March 31 all PCR testing sites in Wales will close.
- Free lateral flow tests to support regular asymptomatic testing in workplaces will end on March 31 except for health and social care workers.
- Free lateral flow tests for the public for regular asymptomatic testing will end on March 31.
- From April 1 if you have COVID symptoms you should use a lateral flow test to check whether you have COVID. These can be ordered gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests or by calling 119. If you test positive you should report your results www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result and isolate for a minimum of five full days and take lateral flow tests on day five and day six (if both negative) before leaving isolation.
- From April 1 only people eligible for COVID-19 treatments will be able to order PCR tests to be done at home.
- Routine asymptomatic testing in childcare and education settings, except special education provision, will stop at the end of the term (April 8).
Covid-19 current guidance - March 28, 2022
From today, Monday March 28:
- Face coverings remain legally required in health and social care settings but not in shops and public transport - although they continue to be recommended
- You are not legally required to self-isolate but if you’re unwell it is strongly advised
- Unvaccinated close contacts will no longer be required or advised to self-isolate
- Last day general public can order PCR test kits to be done at home
- Workplaces and premises open to the public must continue to do coronavirus risk assessments
Cautious approach to coronavirus protections to continue
From Monday, face coverings will no longer be required by law in retail settings and on public transport, though they will continue to be recommended in public health advice.
And the requirement to self-isolate will also move into guidance. A £500 self-isolation payment to support people will continue to be available until June.
However, 2 key legal protections will remain in place as coronavirus cases have risen sharply in recent weeks, driven by the BA.2 sub-type of the omicron variant.
Face coverings will remain a legal requirement in health and social care settings and coronavirus risk assessments must continue to be carried out by businesses, with reasonable measures put in place in light of those assessments.
The next 3-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 14 April, when the remaining legal measures will be reviewed.
Spring rollout of boosters begins in Wales this week
Spring COVID-19 booster vaccinations are being rolled out in Wales from this week.
The latest phase of the vaccination programme will see the over-75s, older care home residents and individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed being invited for their boosters.
Children aged five to 11 years will also begin being offered their first vaccination from today too. Parents and guardians will need to consent to them having the vaccine.
Written Statement: International Travel
Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services:
I am extremely disappointed the UK Government is planning to remove all the remaining border measures, including removing the passenger location form (PLF) and testing requirements.
However, in view of the significant practical difficulties associated with diverging from the arrangements in England in this area – a significant number of Welsh travellers use English airports and ports – we are reluctantly retaining alignment with the decisions made by the UK Government and agreed by the other devolved governments.
Long-term plan to live with coronavirus safely
Wales will remain at alert level 0 for the next 3 weeks with the current level of protections in place. But all legal measures could be removed from 28 March if the public health situation remains stable.
The next 3-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 24 March, when the remaining legal measures at alert level 0 will be reviewed.
Welsh Government statement: Long-term plan to live with coronavirus safely
Face covering legal requirement lifted in many indoor public places
The legal requirement to wear a face covering in many indoor public places has today come to an end.
The change will mean people will no longer be legally required to wear face coverings in a range of indoor places, including cinemas, theatres, community centres, museums and gyms.
But face coverings will continue to be a legal requirement for adults and children aged 11 and over, unless exempt, in all retail settings, on public transport and in health and care settings.
COVID-19 vaccination – Second spring booster offer to most vulnerable
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), as part of its latest review of the vaccination programme, has published a statement, which recommends an additional spring booster dose for our most vulnerable individuals.
COVID Pass no longer required for indoor or outdoor events
The legal requirement to show a COVID Pass to enter certain venues and events in Wales has now been lifted by the Welsh Government, the Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden has confirmed.
The move comes as the Welsh Government continues to lift some of its remaining coronavirus protections as cases continue to fall.
From today, the domestic COVID Pass will no longer be required for entry into indoor or outdoor events and venues, including nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls. But events and venues will be able to continue to use it if they choose to.
Coronavirus protections relaxed as cases fall
Wales will gradually begin to relax some of its remaining coronavirus protections as cases continue to fall.
From Friday 18 February, the domestic COVID Pass will no longer be required for entry into indoor or outdoor events and venues, including nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls. But events and venues will be able to continue to use it if they choose to.
The international COVID Pass will continue to be integral to arrangements for safer international travel. Travellers will need to check the relevant countries’ rules for entry, including any different requirements for children.
From Monday 28 February, the requirement to wear face coverings will be removed from most indoor public places, apart from in retail, public transport and health and care settings.
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.
Schools will return to using their local decision framework from 28 February and from 11 February the guidance will be updated to make it clear adults can remove their face coverings when they are interacting with babies and small children at baby and toddler groups.
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.
Full statement: Welsh Government First Minister Mark Drakeford
Cultural Recovery Fund
The third round of the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund opens for applications today, with businesses and organisations who have not previously received support under the fund now eligible to apply.
Full statement: Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden
Wales completes move to alert level 0
All of Wales is at alert level 0. This means:
- Nightclubs can re-open.
- The general requirement of 2m 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. The Covid Pass will continue to be required to enter larger indoor events, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls.
- Working from home will remain important but it will no longer be a legal requirement.
- Businesses, employers and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus, which may include 2m social distancing or controlled entry.
Face-covering rules, which apply on public transport and in most public indoor places will remain in force after 28 January, with the exception of hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs, cafes and nightclubs.
Everyone must also continue to self-isolate if they test positive for coronavirus but the Welsh Government has reduced the self-isolation period from seven to 5 full days.
People are advised to take 2 negative lateral flow tests 24 hours apart on days 5 and 6. The self-isolation support scheme payment will return to the original rate of £500 for all those who are eligible.
The next 3-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 10 February, when all the measures at alert level 0 will be reviewed.
The Welsh Government website has information on how you can keep safe - read the current guidance.
Self-isolation period reduced
People who test positive for Covid-19 will be able to leave self-isolation after 5 full days if they have 2 negative lateral flow tests, Health Minister Eluned Morgan today confirmed.
The 2 consecutive negative lateral flow tests must be taken on days 5 and 6 of the isolation period.
The changes are being made after a thorough examination of the evidence from Public Health Wales and bring Wales into line with changes made elsewhere in the UK.
They will come into effect from 28 January, at the same time as Wales is expected to complete the move to alert level 0.
A shorter self-isolation period will support public services and businesses by reducing pressures on the workforce through Covid-related staff absences.
Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language has announced that if the evidence supports it, Welsh Government will confirm at the next three-week review on February 10 that schools should return to making local decisions on mitigations in line with the Local Infection Control Decision Framework by the beginning of the new half term on 28 February
Face coverings will remain in schools for the time being, just as they are required in most public places, at alert level 0.
From 4am on Friday 11 February:
- Fully vaccinated passengers (who have had their full primary courses) will no longer need a pre-departure test two days before travelling to the UK. The only requirement will be for them to complete a Passenger Locator Form;
- Unvaccinated travellers or ineligible travellers should complete a Passenger Location Form, a pre-departure test within two days of their scheduled departure, and a PCR arrival test taken on or before day two;
- All under-18s, regardless of their vaccination status, can now enter the UK without a pre-departure test. However, if you are travelling abroad with children we would urge you to check the different requirements for children, including if they need to be fully vaccinated.
Vaccine certificates issued by the vast majority of countries are now recognised, with a further 16 countries being added to this list.
Phased easing of Covid restrictions to continue
Wales will complete the move to alert level 0 on 28 January, First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed, unless the public health situation changes for the worse.
He said the phased plan to gradually relax the alert level 2 measures and move back to alert level 0 will continue.
The latest public health data suggests Wales has passed the peak of the omicron wave and coronavirus cases are falling back to levels similar to those seen earlier in the autumn. There have also been reductions in the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital.
From Friday 21 January, Wales will move to alert level 0 for all outdoor activities.
- Crowds will be 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 required introduced in December, such as the rule of 6 and 2m social distancing
- The Covid Pass will continue to be required for entry to larger outdoor events attended by more than 4,000 people, if unseated, or 10,000 people when seated.
- The Covid Pass is required in all cinemas, theatres and concert halls which are currently open.
Full statement: Phased easing of Covid restrictions to continue
Covid-19 Discretionary Emergency Business Fund
Covering the period from December 13 2021 to February 14 2022, the Emergency Business Fund has been introduced to assist businesses with their immediate cash flow and is intended to cover the business impact and economic consequences of additional restrictions introduced on December 26 2021 necessary to control the spread of Covid-19.
The Emergency Business Fund is to support businesses in the leisure, tourism, retail and hospitality sectors who do not pay business rates and are not eligible for the Economic Resilience fund. If you pay business rates you could be eligible for the NDR Emergency Fund.
Self-isolation support payments
If you have been contacted by NHS Wales Test, Trace, protect service (TTP) and been told to self-isolate, you may be entitled to financial support. If you have made a claim, please be aware that the current processing time is currently three weeks, please bear with us.
Plan to ease alert level 2 protections announced
A plan to return Wales to alert level 0 measures will today be set out by First Minister Mark Drakeford. The full move to alert level 0 will be dependent on the public health situation continuing to improve. If conditions allow, the alert level 2 restrictions will be removed in a phased approach.
From tomorrow, the number of people who can be present at outdoor events will rise from 50 to 500.
From Friday 21 January Wales would move to alert level 0 for all outdoor activities. This means there will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities:
- Crowds will be able to return to outdoor sporting events
- Outdoor hospitality would be able to operate without additional reasonable measures.
- The Covid Pass will be required for entry to larger outdoor events.
If the downward trend continues, from Friday 28 January Wales would move to alert level 0 for all indoor activities:
- Nightclubs will be able to re-open.
- Working from home would remain important but it would no longer be a legal requirement.
- Businesses, employers and other organisations must undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
- The Covid Pass will be required for entry to nightclubs, events, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.
- The rule of 6, table service and 2m physical distancing no longer required in hospitality.
The self-isolation rules for all those who test positive for Covid and the face covering rules for most public indoor places will remain in force after 28 January.
The 3-weekly cycle would be re-introduced from 10 February, when the Welsh Government will review all remaining measures at alert level 0.
Full Welsh Government statement: Plan to ease alert level 2 protections announced
£15.4 million to help support Wales’ Arts and Culture sectors
The Welsh Government is making £15.4 million available to support the arts and cultural sector in Wales during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Statement: Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden
Covid-19 Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) Emergency Fund
Welsh Government have introduced the 'NDR Emergency Fund' grant scheme to support businesses with their immediate cash flow and to help them survive the economic consequences of additional restrictions necessary to control the spread of Covid-19 between 26 December 2021 and 14 February 2022.
You can apply for the grant online. The closing date for applications is 5pm, February 14, 2022.
More funding to relieve pressures and help the NHS and social care
To help the NHS recover from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, alleviate waiting times and reduce winter pressures, a further £12.5 million has been announced to support people to live independently following a hospital stay and help pharmacies support more people to stay well without needing to see a GP.
The funding will help relieve pressures on the social care system and pharmacists still feeling the effects of the pandemic.
Lateral Flow test kits now available to collect at Council Hwbs
You can now pick up rapid lateral flow test kits at the Council’s Hwbs in Ammanford, Carmarthen and Llanelli.
Alongside existing collection outlets in the county, customers are also now able to pick up the kits at the council buildings in Quay Street Ammanford, St Catherine’s Walk Carmarthen and Stepney Street in Llanelli.
To find a list of all your nearest Lateral Flow rapid test collection points visit the Sitefinder
People asked to keep Wales safe as alert level 2 measures stay in place
First Minister Mark Drakeford has asked people to keep taking steps to protect each other and keep Wales safe from the wave of Omicron cases. He has confirmed alert level 2 measures will stay in place in Wales following the outcome of the latest regulations review.
Cases of coronavirus have risen sharply to their highest ever levels as the Omicron wave has surged across Wales in the post-Christmas period. The latest figures show there are more than 2,200 cases per 100,000 people in Wales.
International Travel Changes
Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services:
In line with decisions being taken elsewhere in the UK, I have today reluctantly agreed to remove the requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and under 18s to take a pre departure test (PDT) and a day 2 PCR test when arriving in the UK.
All fully vaccinated travellers will need to take an LFD test at day 2 and, if positive, a follow-up PCR test to enable genomic sequencing to be carried out. The requirement to self-isolate until a negative test has been received has also been removed.
The requirements for non-vaccinated travellers remain unchanged.
These changes will begin to come into force from 4am on Friday 7 January. Lateral flow tests will be accepted as post-arrival tests from 4am on Sunday 9 January.
Prioritising PCR Testing
Written Statement: Eluned Morgan MS Minister for Health and Social Services:
I have agreed some immediate changes to the PCR testing system that will help reduce pressure and help increase access for those who have symptoms and need to book a test.
The first change will mean that people who are un-vaccinated contacts of positive cases and are self-isolating for 10 days should now take a lateral flow test on day two and day eight instead of a PCR test. This will help to increase PCR testing capacity. This change will come into effect immediately.
Secondly, together with the other UK nations, we have agreed that if a person showing no symptoms has a positive lateral flow test they will no longer be advised to have a follow-up PCR test to confirm the result, unless they are in a clinically vulnerable group, which may need early access to treatment or have been advised to do so as part of a research or surveillance programme.
Return to schools and colleges
The guidance requiring staff and secondary school learners to wear face coverings in school, including in classrooms, has been continued into the new term and schools and colleges have been asked to plan for the most protective measures in accordance with the framework in use in schools and colleges. These could include:
- the use of one-way systems;
- consistent seating plans where practicable;
- using suitable outdoor spaces;
- the use of contact groups where practicable;
- not holding large group gatherings such as assemblies.
Full written statement: Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language
Over £100m of new funding will help make schools and colleges Covid-secure
Schools and colleges will receive £103 million in Welsh Government funding, as learners return for the January term.
£50m will be provided via local authorities through the Sustainable Communities for Learning programme. The funding will help schools carry out capital repair and improvement work, with a focus on health and safety measures, such as improving ventilation. The funding will also be used to support decarbonisation.
£45m of revenue funding will also help support school budgets, assisting schools as they continue to deal with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and to prepare for the requirements of the new curriculum.
Eligibility checker for £120 million Omicron business support package goes live
Businesses in Wales impacted by the rapid spread of the Omicron virus can now find out how much they can expect to receive in emergency financial support from the Welsh Government.
The support package includes funding from the Economic Resilience Fund (ERF), with an eligibility checker for this fund now live on the Business Wales website.
This will help businesses, including charities and social enterprises, to gauge how much they can expect to receive from the ERF.
Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000, with grants dependent on their size and number of employees.
The application window for the ERF will open in week commencing 17 January 2022, with payments starting to reach businesses within days. The application window will be open for two weeks.
Changes to self-isolation
From December 31 anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 can end self-isolation after seven days. Before exiting self-isolation, a person should take 2 lateral flow device (LFD) tests 24 hours apart to check they are not still infectious. The first lateral flow test should be taken on day six of isolation.
Extending the NHS Covid Pass for fully vaccinated 12-15 year olds for international travel
The NHS COVID Pass is being extended for fully vaccinated 12-15 year olds for international travel only. This service will be available in Wales from 22 December 2021.
Written statement - Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Look after your mental health this Christmas and New Year
Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle:
COVID-19 continues to impact our daily lives and the emergence of the Omicron variant is once again a stark reminder that the pandemic is not yet over. I want people to know support is available for them 24/7."
Changes have been made to the self-isolation requirements for close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases.
Fully vaccinated adults, children aged 5-18 and vaccine clinical trial participants identified as a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19 will not need to isolate. Instead, they should take lateral flow tests for 7 days as a precautionary measure.
Advice for children under 5 is unchanged – they will not need to isolate and are not required to take a PCR test or do lateral flow tests.
Advice for unvaccinated close contacts remains the same – they are required to self-isolate for 10 days and advised to take PCR tests on day 2 and day 8 following their exposure to a positive case. Over the past few weeks, we have taken swift action against the new Omicron variant through a series of measures to help keep Wales – and people in Wales safe.
Full written statement by Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
£120m financial support for businesses in Wales impacted by Omicron
Businesses in Wales impacted by the rapid spread of the Omicron virus will be eligible for emergency financial support under a new Welsh Government support package.
The Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, has announced the details of the £120m funding which will be available for retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business and their supply chains affected by the move to alert level 2, as announced by the First Minister on Wednesday 22 December.
Under the latest package, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business who pay Non Domestic Rates will be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value. Businesses will need to re-register their details, through a quick and easy online process, with their local authority in order to receive their payments.
Registration will open via local authority websites from the week commencing 10 of January.
Full statement: £120m financial support for businesses in Wales impacted by Omicron
Covid-19 vaccination – Children and young people
Written Statement: Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services - Covid-19 vaccination – Children and young people
Strengthened measures to keep Wales safe as omicron strikes
New measures will be introduced from 6am on Boxing Day to help keep Wales safe.
The measures are a revised version of alert level 2 to respond to the new omicron variant and are designed to help keep businesses open and trading and protect customers and staff.
The regulations bring back protections in hospitality businesses, including licensed premises, and in cinemas and theatres when they re-open after the festive period. Strengthened guidance will be issued to help people stay safe in their own homes and when meeting others.
Full Welsh Government statement: New measures will be introduced from 6am on Boxing Day
Boxing Day Walrus Dip cancelled for second year running
A decision has been made to cancel the Boxing Day Walrus Dip at Pembrey Country Park’s Cefn Sidan beach following an updated risk assessment and in line with new Welsh Government rules announced today (21/12/21).
Carmarthenshire County Council said it had no option but to call off the annual fundraising event following the review and the announcement that all indoor and outdoor sporting events in Wales must be held behind closed doors.
Full story - Boxing Day Walrus Dip cancelled for second year running
Sporting events to be played behind closed doors as omicron cases rise
Sporting events will be played behind closed doors from Boxing Day in Wales to help control the spread of the new omicron variant.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething announced the new measures for indoor and outdoor sporting events as the latest figures showed a further steep rise in the number of confirmed cases of the fast-moving variant.
He also confirmed a £3m Spectator Sports Fund will be available to support clubs and sporting venues affected by the new measures to protect public health.
Further details about the fund will be available following discussions with the sector.
Situation updates prior to October 1, 2021
Situation updates prior to October 1, 2021, have now been archived. If you are looking for a particular update that has now been archived, please contact us.
Covid-19 vaccine programme update
Anyone who has received a scheduled appointment for their vaccination is strongly urged to do their best to keep it, whether offered in a Mass Vaccination Centre, a GP surgery, or local community pharmacy.
However, if you haven’t yet received an appointment, Hywel Dda University Health Board now invites anyone over the age of 35 years, plus those in a higher priority group, to drop-in to a Mass Vaccination Centre for their vaccination.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 23) Regulations 2021
These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020.
Provides for employers to take measures to allow employees to work from home where it is reasonably practicable for them to do so and places a duty on such individuals to do so.
Routine testing for health and social care staff
Written Statement: Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
The safety and protection of the most vulnerable people in our communities is at the heart of our response to the pandemic. Following the emergence and rapid spread of the omicron variant, we have updated our guidance for staff in healthcare, social care, hospices and special schools who are eligible for routine asymptomatic testing
These staff members, regardless of their vaccination status or previous infection with Covid-19, will now be strongly encouraged to take a lateral flow test (LFT), every day before they attend work. They should take the test at home, using the LFTs provided by their employer, in good time before the start of their shift, to allow that shift to be covered by alternative staff member, if they test is positive.
Daily testing in this way is more likely to identify those people who may be infectious, without showing symptoms, and before they leave home to start work. This will in turn help protect patients, service users, children and other staff members.
Staying safe at Christmas
During the Christmas holidays make sure you’re helping to ease the strain on the NHS:
- Keep a basic first aid kit well stocked
- Use your local pharmacy for advice about minor health concerns like a sore throat, and get some over-the-counter medicines free of charge without seeing a GP.
- Plan ahead by ordering your repeat prescriptions at least seven days in advance.
- Make sure you get your COVID, flu or other vaccinations when they’re offered to you.
- Wash your hands regularly to avoid catching germs.
- Check your symptoms online using the NHS 111 Wales website and get quick advice on what you should do next.
- GPs are now supporting the booster role out so service levels may be different.
COVID-19 vaccination – Prioritising pregnant women
Written Statement: Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
For any mother to be, getting their first, second and booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is one of the most important things they can do to protect themselves and their unborn baby against coronavirus and, particularly against the new omicron variant.
We have been encouraging pregnant women to have their Covid-19 vaccinations for some time. New advice from Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) reinforces this message.
The number of pregnant women coming forward for vaccination has been lower than we would want it to be, and this places mothers and their babies at risk.
Based on the data about safety, together with the increased risk from Covid-19 the JCVI has advised that pregnant women should be considered as a clinical risk group and prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination.
We strongly encourage all mothers to contact their health boards to make an appointment to have their first or second dose if they have not yet been vaccinated. Women waiting for a booster will be contacted by their health board.
New advice to keep Wales safe this Christmas
The Welsh Government is issuing strong guidance to support people across Wales through the Christmas period.
Wales will then introduce new restrictions, including for businesses and services – from 27 December. This will include a 2m rule on social distancing in offices and putting extra measures in place to protect customers and staff, such as one-way systems and physical barriers.
Nightclubs will also close. These tougher restrictions are needed to help control the spread of omicron.
To stay safe in the run up to Christmas, the Welsh Government is strongly advising everyone to follow these five measures to stay safe:
- Get vaccinated – and if you’ve had your booster appointment, please make attending your priority.
- If you’re going out, going Christmas shopping or visiting people – flow before you go. Take a lateral flow test. If it’s positive – don’t go out.
- Meeting outdoors is better than indoors. If you’re meeting indoors make sure it’s well ventilated.
- Space out your socialising – if you’ve got events arranged, please leave at least a day between them.
- And don’t forget about social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing your hands.
Message to parents regarding start of Spring term
Carmarthenshire County Council’s Director of Education and Children’s Services, Gareth Morgans, has written to parents of primary and secondary school aged children to advise them about preparations for the start of the Spring term in January in light of the current Covid-19 situation.
COVID-19 vaccine update
Hywel Dda University Health Board has updated its vaccination programme.
First Minister Mark Drakeford will tonight set out Wales’ aim to offer all eligible adults an appointment for a booster vaccine by the end of December.
Urgent plans are being put in place to further accelerate the booster programme as new evidence has emerged showing two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are not enough to offer protection against the new omicron variant.
First Minister Mark Drakeford update on the Omicron variant
Statement by Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales:
We are learning more about the omicron variant every day. This is a fast-moving form of coronavirus, which has the potential to cause a large wave of infections in Wales. This could lead to large numbers of people needing hospital treatment at a time when our NHS is under significant pressure.
“Our best defence continues to be vaccination. Emerging evidence shows the booster dose is vital. We are doing everything we can to accelerate our vaccination programme to increase the number of people who will receive their booster in the coming days and weeks. Older people and those at greatest risk are being prioritised at the moment. We are increasing the number of clinics and their opening hours; we have asked all available staff to join vaccination teams to support this national effort.
“Please make having your booster a priority. It will be one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself against coronavirus and this new variant.
“The Cabinet is closely monitoring this rapidly changing public health situation and has moved to a weekly review cycle. We are facing a very serious situation and we may need to take further steps to keep Wales safe. I will continue to keep Wales updated.”
UK COVID Alert Level increased from Level 3 to Level 4
Following advice from the UK Health Security Agency and in the light of the rapid increase in Omicron cases, the UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director have recommended to Ministers that the UK COVID Alert Level should increase from Level 3 to Level 4.
Welsh Government 21-day review
The First Minister is urging everyone to have their COVID-19 booster vaccine as he warned Wales is facing a new wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant.
More than a million people have already received their booster vaccine in Wales but the programme is being speeded up following the emergence of the fast-moving variant.
The First Minister will say, at his regular 21-day review press conference, to be held on Friday (December 10), that even though only a handful of cases of Omicron have so far been confirmed in Wales, we must be prepared for cases to rise quickly and sharply.
There are a number of other measures people can take to help protect themselves from coronavirus, including the new Omicron variant.
The First Minister will ask people to take regular lateral flow tests before going out and to wear face coverings in all public places help protect people in the lead up to Christmas.
Wales will remain at alert level zero after the latest review of the COVID regulations. However, with the spread of the Omicron variant, the Welsh Government is strongly advising:
- People flow before they go. This means taking a lateral flow test before going out – whether that’s to a Christmas party; Christmas shopping; visiting friends or family; going to any crowded or busy place or before travelling.
- If the test is positive, don’t go out. Arrange for a PCR test and self-isolate.
- People to wear face coverings in pubs and restaurants, when they aren’t eating or drinking. Everyone must wear face coverings in most other indoor public places, in accordance with the law, including in cinemas and theatres.
Cases in the Llandybie and Ammanford areas
We’re seeing a high number of Covid-19 cases in the Llandybie and Ammanford areas at the moment and our contact tracers are working hard to identify cases and stop the spread.
If you have been out and about in this area and start experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms (high temperature, loss or change in taste or smell, new or continuous cough, or wider flu-like symptoms), or if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive, please book a PCR test and isolate until you receive a negative result.
If you don’t have any Covid-19 symptoms you can take an LFD test for your own peace of mind, but don’t forget to upload your results to the government portal - follow the instructions on the kit.
‘Disrupt the transmission’ – latest Keep Wales Safe campaign launches
The latest phase of the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign which aims to ‘disrupt the transmission’ of COVID-19 is launching today.
Adverts will run on TV, radio, press, out-of-home, digital and social media channels for the next five weeks to encourage the public to continue to follow the measures put in place to keep all of us safe.
The campaign focuses on the importance of face masks, vaccinations, testing and self-isolation. Additional campaign messages will also include the importance of ventilation and the use of lateral flow tests before socialising. Campaign materials are also shared with a wide range of partners and stakeholder for use on their own social media channels.
International travel changes
Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services:
We are taking action to move Nigeria onto the red list for travel from 0400 Monday 6th December following the identification of a new coronavirus variant, which may be capable of evading the protection provided by vaccines.
Travellers from red list countries will not be permitted to enter Wales but must enter through a port of entry in England and go into a managed quarantine facility for 10 days. Whilst they are in quarantine they must also take post-arrival PCR tests on day 2 and day 8.
We are also reintroducing a 48-hour Pre Departure Test requirement for all travellers. This means that travellers will need to have a negative PCR or LFD test as close as possible to their departure time before they can travel.
Who will be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccination?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) advised, in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant, from 29 November that COVID-19 vaccine booster vaccination eligibility would be expanded to include all adults over aged 18.
Booster vaccinations are being be offered in order of descending age groups, with priority given to the vaccination of older adults and those in a COVID-19 at-risk group.
Offers of a booster dose should be given at a minimum of 3 months of completion of the primary course. This is an update from the previously advised 6 month interval.
Changes to the guidelines have been put in place to accelerate the programme, optimise individual protection ahead of a potential wave of infection and reduce the impact of the Omicron variant on the UK population.
Start and end of term guidance for university students
This guidance is aimed at providing information to students on keeping themselves, their families, friends and university communities safe at the start and end of term.
COVID-19 Vaccination – JCVI further advice on boosters
The JCVI has recommended an acceleration to the vaccination programme through a number of ways outlined below:
- all adults over 18 are now eligible for a booster, though priority should still be given to older adults and those at risk
- booster doses should be offered at a reduced minimum of three months after completion of the primary course
- individuals who are severely immunosuppressed who have completed their primary course of three doses should be offered a booster dose, with a minimum of three months between the third primary and booster dose, in line with clinical advice on optimal timing
- both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines should be used with equal preference in the COVID-19 booster programme. Both vaccines have been shown to substantially increase antibody levels when offered as a booster dose.
In addition, JCVI advises, as a secondary measure, that subject to appropriate consideration by deployment teams regarding feasibility, all children and young people aged 12 to 15 years should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a minimum of 12 weeks from the first dose. The interval for this group (and 16-17s) may be reduced to at least 8 weeks between doses if supported by the emerging epidemiological data.
Omicron variant of concern – school operations
All staff and learners in our secondary schools, colleges and universities should now wear face coverings while indoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Many settings are already operating on this basis, guided by their local risk assessment, but this will now become a national approach. This is a temporary, precautionary measure that will be in place for the remaining weeks of term at which point the position will be reviewed. This should come into effect in all settings as soon as possible.
Addition of COVID booster vaccinations to the digital NHS COVID Pass
COVID-19 vaccination boosters have been added to the digital NHS COVID Pass so people in Wales are able to demonstrate proof of a booster if they are travelling overseas.
International travel changes
Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services:
We are taking immediate action to move six south African countries onto the red list for travel following the identification of a new coronavirus variant, which may be capable of evading the protection provided by vaccines.
The variant, called B.1.1.529, has been linked to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. These countries have moved onto the red list from 12pm today.
This means travellers from these destinations will not be permitted to enter Wales but must enter through a port of entry in England or Scotland and go into a managed quarantine facility for 10 days. They must also take post-arrival PCR tests on day 2 and day 8.
Similar action is being taken across the UK."
Updated Lateral Flow Welsh Government advice
If you are over the age of 11 you are encouraged to take lateral flow tests twice a week (every 3 or 4 days) if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
You are also encouraged to take a test:
- if you are going to be in higher risk situations including spending time in crowded or enclosed spaces
- before you visit people who are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- you are travelling to other areas of Wales or the UK
Changes to the international travel rules
These changes will come into force in Wales from 22 November 2021.
No changes to Covid rules
First Minister Mark Drakeford has thanked people throughout Wales for their hard work to help reduce record-high coronavirus case rates over the last three weeks.
He has confirmed there will be no changes to coronavirus rules following the latest 21-day review. Wales will remain at alert level zero, which means all businesses are able to open and trade. And the Covid Pass will not be extended to hospitality settings in this 3-week cycle.
Advice on 16 and 17 year olds and extending the cohorts for the booster vaccination
High number of Covid-19 cases recorded across Amman Valley and St Clears
A high number of Covid-19 cases have been identified in the Amman Valley and St Clears areas of Carmarthenshire, and people are being urged to take extra care.
At present the rate of infection in the Amman Valley area is 1,559.53 per 100,000, and 1,578.46 per 100,000 in St Clears (correct as at 15/11/21).
Most cases in the Amman Valley have been linked to known social gatherings - around 30 cases have been linked to just one social venue - but as yet there are no clear links to known gatherings in St Clears.
As a result, Carmarthenshire County Council’s contact tracing team are urging people living, working and socialising at clubs, groups or local community venues in these areas to take extra care.
They are also urging older residents who have been invited for a booster jab to attend their appointments.
Extension of COVID Pass
COVID Passes will now be needed to enter cinemas, theatres and concert halls in Wales from today.
The guidance on self-isolation has also been changed and people are being encouraged to work from home to help bring the virus under control.
Extension of NHS COVID Pass to cinemas, theatres and concert halls in Wales
Members of the Senedd have approved the extension of the NHS COVID Pass. Following the vote NHS COVID Passes will now be needed in cinemas, theatres and concert halls from Monday 15 November.
- For further information visit Get your NHS COVID Pass.
Self-isolation changes from 29 October 2021
Self-isolation has changed when somebody in your household has coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus.
Changes to the rules for international travel
Strengthened measures to reduce high coronavirus cases in Wales
First Minister Mark Drakeford will today say alert level zero protective measures will be strengthened to keep people safe and help reduce high levels of coronavirus in Wales.
Rates of coronavirus in Wales are currently the highest in the UK.
The First Minister will say Wales is facing a serious situation and that unless rates begin to fall over the next three weeks, Ministers will have to consider reintroducing some restrictions at the next review to bring the spread of the virus under control.
COVID-19 booster vaccine
Today Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed those who are eligible for a COVID-19 booster vaccine can now attend their nearest Hywel Dda mass vaccination centre as a walk-in, no appointment needed.
Working with the Health and Safety Executive
We continue to work with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to check in with businesses in Carmarthenshire to ensure they are operating safely at alert level 0. The HSE, working alongside our officers, is providing advice and guidance to manage risk and protect workers, customers and visitors and taking action where there are concerns about safety.
As well as checking in with manufacturers, retailers and leisure and hospitality providers the HSE will also be contacting small businesses such as solicitors, estate agents, banks - all part of our efforts to ensure everyone stays safe.
Covid Pass: guidance for businesses and events
NHS Covid Pass
From today, to attend nightclubs or large events in Wales you’ll need to show:
- your full vaccination status; or
- a recent negative lateral flow test result
You can show both of these on your NHS Covid Pass.
Coronavirus control plan: autumn and winter 2021 update
The Welsh Government is publishing an updated Coronavirus Control Plan, which outlines the key actions, which could be put in place to control the spread of the virus.
The latest version of the Coronavirus Control Plan sets out two planning scenarios for the pandemic over the winter – in the first, called Covid Stable, Wales remains at alert level zero through the autumn and winter, with all businesses able to open.
The second planning scenario, called Covid Urgent, is designed to deal with any sudden changes to the situation, caused by the emergence of a new, fast-spreading variant or if vaccine immunity levels fall, causing a rise in pandemic pressures, which risk overwhelming the NHS.
Future arrangements for COVID-19 Testing for children and young people and for staff working in special schools and colleges
Summary of changes:
- Secondary school/college pupils who live with a household member who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be advised to undertake daily LFT tests for seven days (every morning before attending school/college).
- This in addition to PCR tests on day 2 and day 8.
- Primary school children will continue to be advised to take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8.
Children under 5:
- Welsh Government no longer recommend that children under 5 take asymptomatic COVID-19 tests.
- Where children under 5 have symptoms, test are not routinely recommend tests - unless directed to do so by a doctor or if parents believe a test is absolutely necessary and in the best interests of the child.
- Vaccinated staff working in special educational settings who are identified as a contact (household or otherwise), (subject to a risk assessment) will be required to receive a negative PCR test before attending work, and then undertake daily lateral flow tests thereafter for 10 days.
Roll-out of Covid vaccination for 12 to 15-year-olds gathers pace in Wales
As 12 to 15-year-olds across Wales start to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, the Health Minister today confirmed they will all be offered a vaccine by the end of October half-term.
All 12 to 15-year-olds will be invited by letter to have the vaccine and the majority being administered at mass vaccination centres. In some areas, vaccination will be carried out at schools. Some of the most vulnerable 12 to 15-year-olds in Wales have already started receiving the vaccine and all health boards will have started rolling out the programme in their areas this week.