MARK Drakeford believes most people in Wales will continue to take precautionary measures against Covid, even though there is no legal reason for them to do so.

From next week, the nation's only remaining coronavirus restriction will be that masks are mandatory in health and social care settings.

Today (Thursday) the Welsh Government confirmed businesses will no longer have to carry out coronavirus risk assessments and instal protective measures like screens.

But the first minister said he expected many traders to continue with practical measures because "it makes good sense for their business".

He also believed many members of the public would continue with mask-wearing and taking other basic steps, even though the legal requirement to do so was lifted at the beginning of the month.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales earlier today, Mr Drakeford said the lifting of the legal obligations on traders "certainly doesn’t mean that businesses will be abandoning all the things they’ve put in place to keep their workers safe and to keep customers safe".

He added: "One of the reasons we’re no longer making it a legal obligation is because businesses across Wales tell us that they’re determined to go on doing all of those things because they know it makes good sense for their business."

Traders will still have to carry out normal risk assessments under health and safety laws, just as they did before the pandemic.

South Wales Argus: People shopping in a supermarket in Chepstow during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Huw Evans Picture AgencyPeople shopping in a supermarket in Chepstow during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Huw Evans Picture Agency

The Welsh Government has already published a long-term plan for living with Covid as the virus becomes endemic.

Asked what the plan would mean for people in Wales, the first minister said the nation should be "aware coronavirus certainly hasn't just disappeared" and shouldn't behave "as though the pandemic was simply a thing of the past".

He added: "All those simple things we’ve learned to do – getting vaccinated, wearing masks in crowded public places, meeting outdoors where you can, being careful with hand hygiene – these are simple things we’ve all learned to do, and when you add them all up they continue to provide the single biggest protection we have."

Mr Drakeford said he would continue wearing masks "in crowded public places" and was heartened, during a recent trip to the shops, to see many other people still covering up.

"I’ve been on public transport recently, and continue to wear [a mask] there," he added. "But it’s just making sure that you assess the risk, isn’t it? If I’m just out by myself walking in the park, I wouldn’t be wearing one there."

The first minister also welcomed the news another Covid vaccine has been approved for use in the UK.

"Vaccination remains the single most important thing that any one of us can do in our own lives to protect ourselves, and to protect other people," he said. "Having another vaccine available makes the system more resilient, and it’s good news for Wales."