CHESTER FC will be allowed to play home fixtures at the Deva Stadium once more as Welsh Covid restrictions, which have been the focus of a bizarre border row for the club, are to be relaxed.

Wales is set to move back to alert level zero under phased plans to be set out by the First Minister today (Friday).

Mark Drakeford will hold a press conference detailing how the country will ease its restrictions as part of a two-week plan if the public health situation continues to improve.

Wales is currently on alert level two restrictions which have been in place since Boxing Day at his press conference.

The move to alert level zero will be phased, with restrictions on outdoor activities being removed first.

Mr Drakeford told BBC Wales today: “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, 21 January, crowds will be able to return to sporting events.”

That news will mean Chester FC, where the Deva Stadium straddles the England/Wales border, will be able to play home games once more.

The announcement will be too late for this Saturday's fixture, which the club had postponed amid uncertainty over whether the club would face financial penalties for breaching Welsh Covid regulations.

Under level two restrictions, a maximum of only 50 people could spectate sport in Wales, and with North Wales Police and Flintshire Council writing a letter to the club last week informing them they could be in breach of the Welsh coronavirus regulations, the Blues took no chances, despite ongoing talks with authorities to try and resolve the matter.

The controversy arose after the club received the letter following Chester FC's home fixtures over the festive period, where they drew two games at the Deva on December 28, 2020 and January 2, 2021.

The club have vowed to identify "a long-term solution that recognises the unique geography and historical context of the Deva Stadium site" so that there will be no repeat of the situation in future. 

The club's next home fixture is not until February 5, when the Blues will play Southport.

The restrictions that were introduced on Boxing Day in Wales came after the Omicron variant swept the country.

They were described as a "revised version" of alert level two restrictions, but still included:

  • Wearing a face covering (unless you have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering) in all indoor public places, including when not seated in a pub, café or restaurant.
  • Meeting no more than five other people at a café, restaurant, pub or other public premises (unless with your household of a larger number). This applied to both outdoor and indoor areas of the premises.
  • Working from home if you could.
  • Self-isolating for seven days if you tested positive for Covid-19 and taking a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) on day six and day seven. If either LFT was positive, you had to remain in isolation until two negative LFTs or after day 10, whichever was sooner.
  • Not taking part in an organised event indoors of more than 30 people or outdoors for more than 50 people. All organised events had to be organised by a responsible body and have a risk assessment.

The rules will also allow for the return of Parkrun events, which have been on hiatus since the new year, and the return of sporting fixtures at grounds which are wholly in Wales.

Mr Drakeford will also thank the people of Wales for their support in helping to stem the flow of Omicron and to bring the removal of the protections put in place after a successful booster campaign saw more than 1.75m people have the extra booster dose.

The press conference is due to begin at 12.15pm.