THE final remaining coronavirus restrictions still in place in Wales will be removed on Monday, first minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed.

Mr Drakeford today said Wales can "look forward to a brighter future, as the last remaining coronavirus protections in law come to an end".

After more than two 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.

However, 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.

Mr Drakeford said: “The pandemic has had a profound impact on all our lives – everyone has made sacrifices and changes over the last two years.

"But it is thanks to all your efforts that we can move beyond the emergency response while still living safely with this virus.

“I want to thank everyone for all you have done to protect yourselves and your loved ones. You have followed the rules and you have kept Wales safe.

“This three-week review of the coronavirus regulations is a significant milestone – we are completing our careful and gradual transition away from legal protections and away from the emergency response to the pandemic.”

The public health situation is continuing to improve in Wales – results from recent ONS Coronavirus Infection Surveys show the number of people with Covid-19 is falling.

However, in the past week, the four UK chief medical officers have warned about the risk from new variants – BA.4 and BA.5.

Mr Drakeford said Wales will remain alert to these variants and is ready to scale up testing and vaccination arrangements once again if the public health situation changes.

He said: “We remain alert to the threat of new and emerging variants, and we will be ready to respond if we see a rapid spread of the virus, causing widespread harm.

“Continuing to take simple steps, including staying up to date with vaccinations, self-isolating if you have Covid-19 symptoms and maintaining good hand hygiene, will be important in helping us all to enjoy a safer and brighter future together.”

From Monday, May 30, the legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will end.

This follows the outcome of the three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations and completes a gradual, phased easing of legal restrictions since January.

Over the last three weeks the public health situation has continued to improve, with the latest results from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey showing the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus in Wales is falling.

The number of Covid-19 related patients has also fallen to fewer than 700 and is at its lowest level since December 28, 2021, although the NHS remains under pressure from a combination of emergency and pandemic pressures with a significant number of staff absences.