Wales enters new lockdown amid Christmas Coronavirus rule change

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

All non-essential shops, plus leisure and fitness centres in wales have closed once again amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and a rethink of Christmas gathering rules.

Hospitality premises, including pubs and restaurants, were meant to close from 6pm on Christmas Day, but this was moved forward after more than 2,100 people were accounted for in in Welsh hospitals with Covid symptoms.

The number of people in intensive care with coronavirus is at the highest level during this second wave – at 98. He said: “The situation we are facing is extremely serious. We must move to alert level 4 and tighten the restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus and save lives.”

Only two households will be be able to form a Christmas bubble during the five-day period - a change from the three households previously announced and an apparent break from the four-nations agreement.

Mr Drakeford said: "Only two households should get together. That's how serious things are. I can't go beyond that until the results of the discussions between the four governments are published later today."

These restrictions will apply to the whole of Wales and will be reviewed after three weeks. Regional differences could be introduced if parts of Wales prove to be in a "different position in a reliable and sustainable way."

The Welsh Retail Consortium has expressed concern at the decision to shut non-essential retail on Christmas Eve. Sara Jones, Head of the Welsh Retail Consortium, said Welsh retailers have "taken every mitigation possible" to keep customers and staff safe.

Adding: “Lockdowns cost Welsh retailers over £100m a week in lost sales, and with continued low footfall in towns and city centres, many retailers face the stark reality of further job losses and store closures as a result of mounting rent bills and a return to full business rates liability from April.

"This forced closure will also make it more difficult for some shops to sell unsold pre-Christmas stock. Whilst we welcome the promise of support for those businesses affected, and that click and collect is permitted to stay open, the blunt reality is the offer of grant support won’t make up for those lost sales – we can only hope those shops forced to close can weather the storm ahead."

Meanwhile first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has changedthe rules there, too, announcing that it will go back into lockdown from Boxing Day for three weeks, and that people should not form a five-day Christmas “bubble” and should instead only mix with other households on Christmas Day.

A ban on travel between Scotland and other parts of the UK will remain in place. 

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 21st December 2020

Wales enters new lockdown amid Christmas Coronavirus rule change