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- First Minister of Wales (born 1954)
Wales will welcome back crowds to sporting events from January 21 after the Welsh Government announced the lifting of restrictions.
All sporting events in Wales have been held behind closed doors since Boxing Day due to the rise of coronavirus cases caused by the Omicron variant.
First Minister Mark Drakeford told BBC Wales: “It’s a four-stage process. As from tomorrow the number of people who can take part in an event outdoors will rise from 50 to 500 and then on Friday of next week, January 21, all outdoor activities will move to alert level 0.
“No limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities; crowds able to return to sporting events; outdoor hospitality able to operate in the way they would have earlier in the pandemic.
“Provided the numbers continue to reduce then on January 28, we’ll move alert level 0 for all indoor activities and premises; nightclubs able to reopen.
“Covid pass still required for large events and for nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and so on and hospitality able to operate indoors as they would have earlier on.
“Because we’ll then be at alert level 0 we’ll revert to a three-week cycle (not one week) of making decisions.
“The lifting of restrictions means fans are able to attend Wales’ first Six Nations Championship home match against Scotland in Cardiff on February 12.
The Welsh Rugby Union, who sell out the 74,500-capacity Principality Stadium for Six Nations matches, had explored the option of staging home games in England in a bid to generate an income from the tournament.
Drakeford, speaking at a press briefing on Friday, denied that lifting the ban on spectators watching professional sport in Wales was due to the economic “pressures” of the imminent Six Nations tournament.
He said: “The pressures are absolutely real when you are making decisions of this sort.
“But the pressure that my Cabinet respond to are the pressures that are in the data. Those are the things that lead us to take the actions that we do and not the understandable representations by people in the individual parts of Welsh society that they occupy.
“It’s absolutely right that people speak up, speak up for sporting events, speak up for hospitality, speak up for what is happening in our schools.
“That’s absolutely right and proper, but the pressures that we respond to are the pressures that when you put all those things together, add up to an impact on people’s lives and the services that we rely on.”
EFL clubs Cardiff, Newport and Swansea have all played home games behind closed doors while English rivals were allowed to welcome supporters to their matches.
The Welsh Grand National was also held at Chepstow on December 27 without spectators, despite advance ticket sales in excess of 6,000.