THE Welsh Government will make its a decision on the further lifting of Covid restrictions this morning, with a statement to the Welsh Parliament expected later this afternoon.

The first minister has said Covid restrictions will not be abandoned "wholesale", telling the Senedd yesterday that he had not been persuaded now was the time for such an approach.

The UK Government is planning its "freedom day" on 19 July, a wholesale lifting of further mandatory restrictions, with no legal requirement for people to wear face masks and with limits on social distancing to end.

The move has faced criticism from some scientists with cases of the virus continuing to rise.

Same but different
Mr Drakeford has said the four nations are moving in "broadly" the same direction, but his Government's advisers have warned of a 'wave of deaths' despite vaccines providing protection against the 'Delta variant'.

Addressing the Senedd, Mr Drakeford said: "What it will not be will be a wholesale abandonment of the collective actions that we have taken during the pandemic, and which continue to keep Wales safe.

"The mood of Welsh people is not a mood of thirsting for some spurious freedom day."

Mr Drakeford's Government has already marked some variation from plans in England, having committed to the continuation of mandatory face coverings on public transport and in health and social care settings.

READ MORE: Face coverings to remain on public transport

To face cover or not to face cover?
Plaid Cymru has called on the Governement to extend that legal requirement to shops as well.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the party’s spokesman on health and care, said: “Governments shouldn’t be picking and choosing which close contact settings require the use of face masks – coronavirus certainly doesn’t make such a distinction.

“I welcome the confirmation that people will still be required to wear face coverings on public transport and in healthcare settings, but being in a busy shop is also a risk, including to staff.

“Government needs to share their reasoning behind this decision, otherwise we’ll have the situation where a shop worker will have to wear a face covering to go to their doctor, but their doctor will not have to wear a mask to visit their shop.”

READ MORE: Schools to set Covid rules from September

'Alert level zero'?
The Government is expected to outline how Wales will move to a new "alert level zero", where there will be fewer legal restrictions.

Such a scenario could see more people meeting indoors and a relaxation on the rules on social contact in people's homes.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has already announced a move to 'level zero', meaning more people will be allowed to meet indoors and attend weddings and funerals.

Limits on outdoor meetings will be maintained, however, and a full return to office work has beeen delayed.

The Scottish Government also plans to remove the requirement for close contacts of those who test positive to self-isolate, providing they have had two doses of a vaccine.

A plan to protect jobs and restore freedoms
The Welsh Conservatives have once again called for a plan for the restoration of freedoms to 'save Welsh jobs'.

Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies, said: “Scotland has a plan, England has a plan, and for the sake of Welsh jobs and our economic recovery, it’s now time Labour ministers published a detailed plan for the restoration of freedoms in Wales.

“We have to learn to live with the virus and with the summer kicking in, and the school term coming to its conclusion, many families, workers and businesses will be asking if not now, when?

“Thanks to the great work of our NHS and volunteers, we have made excellent progress with our vaccination programme, and this should allow us to restore more freedoms in Wales and start our recovery.

“The vaccines are working, and the latest modelling shows that two doses of the vaccine are just as effective against hospital admission with the delta variant as with the alpha variant.

“Given the data trends, the Welsh Labour Government now has the flexibility to provide families, workers and businesses with their plan for restoring all freedoms and releasing restrictions in Wales.

“For the sake of Welsh jobs and our economic recovery, it’s important the First Minister does so tomorrow.”

When will an announcement be made?
The First Minister will make a statement to the Senedd at around 3pm this afternoon. 

His statement will be followed by a press conference to journalists at 5:15pm.

  • This article originally appeared on our sister site The National.