Restrictions on events and businesses in Wales to slow the spread of the Omicron variant will be “gradually” scrapped over the next two weeks.
He said the devolved government can proceed as cases of Omicron are reducing “rapidly” and the booster campaign has been a success – with 1.75 million people in Wales having received an additional jab.
Outdoor activities will be the first to have all restrictions lifted, meaning Wales’ Six Nations games next month can be played in front of crowds.
What restrictions have been in place?
Wales has been at “alert level two” since Boxing Day, meaning:
• Caps on people meeting indoors and outdoors
• Hospitality having to stick to rules about table service and enforce the rule of six
• A ban on crowds at sporting events
• Nightclubs forced to close their doors
The rules were brought in to curb the spread of Omicron and put Wales well out of step with Downing Street, which introduced no new measures after Christmas or New Year.
The Welsh government has been under pressure to remove limits on the numbers allowed to attend large outdoor events ahead of the Six Nations.
And earlier this month, Chester FC said it was “ridiculous” that it has been told it may be in breach of Welsh coronavirus regulations by allowing fans in to watch home matches.
The non-league club are registered in England, however the Welsh border runs through the stadium, meaning the pitch and stands are in Wales.
The club had held two home matches in front of fans since the new Welsh guidelines came in and was given a warning during a meeting with North Wales Police.
The Welsh government also came under fire for delaying the return of parkrun in December.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “Parkrun has helped so many people improve their health across the UK. I can’t see how restricting outdoor exercise in this way is justified or proportionate.”
The former communities secretary Robert Jenrick called the Welsh decision on outdoor gatherings “madness”.
Welsh Athletics boss James Williams also called on officials to reconsider the move.