Welsh Government has confirmed that pandemic restrictions are to gradually ease as infection rates continue to fall and Wales moves back towards alert level zero.

The move follows latest public health figures which suggest positive coronavirus cases have started to decrease while more than two-thirds of people aged 12 and over have received either a booster or a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

While the full move to alert level zero will be dependent on the public health situation continuing to improve, the number of people who can gather at outdoor events will rise from 50 to 500 from 15 January.

From 21 January, 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 will be able to operate without additional reasonable measures, but the Covid Pass will be required for entry to larger outdoor events.

If the downward trend continues, all indoor activities will move to alert level zero from 28 January. This will mean that nightclubs will be able to re-open, and that while working from home will remain important, it will no longer be a legal requirement.

Businesses, employers and other organisations will need to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and put reasonable measures in place to minimise the spread of coronavirus, and the Covid Pass will still be required for entry to nightclubs, events, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.

The ‘rule of six’, table service and two-metre physical distancing will no longer be required, but self-isolation rules for people who test positive for Covid-19 and rules on face coverings within most public indoor places will remain in force after 28 January.

In other developments, an all-new lateral flow test is being piloted in Wales which people can use at home. Branded as Flowflex and described on the packaging as being ‘a SARS-Cov-2-Antigen Rapid Test (Self-Testing)’, the new tests dispense with the throat swab and require only a nasal swab to be undertaken.

Mobile testing also remains available for anyone experiencing symptoms of coronavirus. A drive-through testing facility is available at the former Revlon site in Maesteg (CF34 9TS) between 9am to 5pm. Drive-through testing is also available at Coity and Litchard Community Centre (CF31 1PA) from 9am-5pm.

Finally, a walk-through testing centre is available at the Bowls Hall car park in Angel Street, Bridgend (CF31 4AH) between 8am-8pm – please note that booking remains essential across all three sites.

You can arrange testing appointments by visiting the Welsh Government website or calling 119. If you have hearing or speech difficulties, you can call 18001119 as an alternative.

Bridgend Council Leader, Cllr Huw David, welcomed the First Minister’s announcement, saying: “Thanks to the measures taken just before Christmas, we have been able to limit the spread of coronavirus, and as a result are returning to alert level zero conditions in a sensible, phased way.

“However, we must not let our guard down. Covid-19 remains a very real threat, and our best defence continues to lie in ensuring that we all receive our full round of vaccinations.

“You can find full details on how you can arrange this by visiting the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board website.”