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First Minister Mark Drakeford has today published Wales’ longer-term plan to live safely with coronavirus.

‘Together for a Safer Future’ will mark the start of Wales’ transition beyond the emergency response to the pandemic – emergency measures have been in place for the last two years.

The plan sets out how Wales can live safely with coronavirus – just as the nation lives with many other infectious diseases – and what that will mean for public health services and protections put in place to respond to the pandemic, including testing services.

First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said:

“As we publish this longer-term plan, there is no doubt we have reached a significant moment in this pandemic and we can look to the future with growing confidence that the next year will be one in which we have a different relationship with the virus.

“This has been made possible by the hard work of everyone and by the efforts of all the health and care staff, public sector workers and volunteers who have done so much over the last two years.”

Together for a Safer Future (view here) sets out how Wales’ response to coronavirus will change under the two core planning scenarios – Covid Stable and Covid Urgent.

Covid Stable is the most likely scenario – with Wales expected to encounter new waves of infection, but they are not expected to put unsustainable pressure on the NHS thanks to the effectiveness of vaccines and other pharmaceutical treatments, such as new Covid-19 antivirals.

A phased approach

The plan sets out a gradual, phased approach towards the long-term management of the virus under Covid Stable, including:

  • Supporting people to maintain behaviours we have all become familiar with to help reduce the transmission of all respiratory infections, not just coronavirus.
  • Vaccination boosters in spring for the elderly and most vulnerable adults, and a regular COVID-19 vaccination programme from the autumn.
  • Test, Trace, Protect programme gradually moves away from universal and routine symptomatic and asymptomatic testing and the requirement to self-isolate, to a more targeted approach aimed at vulnerable people.
  • Adaptation of public services, including, for example, using local risk assessments and outbreak control plans.
  • Businesses and other employers to build on the elements of infection control they have put in place to protect staff and customers.

Contingency planning is also underway to enable the Welsh Government and other public services to quickly respond to a Covid-Urgent scenario – such as a new variant which evades the vaccine – if necessary.

Drakeford added:

“The pandemic isn’t over – this virus is full of nasty surprises and we are likely to see fluctuations in global patterns of infection for several years. We need to be ready to respond quickly to any future outbreaks or new variants as we learn to live safely alongside coronavirus in the long-term.

We have learned so much over the last 2 years and we need to harness this as we look forward to a safer and brighter future together.

Keep safe at work guidance

Business Wales produces regularly updated guidance on how employers and employees can keep safe at work. Click here for more.

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.

Wales will remain at alert level 0 for the next three weeks with the current level of protections in place. But all legal measures could be removed from 28 March 2022 if the public health situation remains stable.