Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 4) (Wales) Regulations 2020 place a series of restrictions on gatherings, the movement of people, and the operation of businesses. They are designed to protect people from the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
We worked with the Scottish, Northern Irish and UK governments to agree a common four-nation plan for the festive period.
This will not be a “normal” Christmas, but following a long and difficult year, everyone will have a chance to spend some time with close friends and family, as we have agreed a set of common measures between 23 December and 27 December, which will be reflected in the Welsh regulations:
- Travel restrictions across the four nations and between tiers will be lifted during this period.
- Up to three households will be able form an exclusive Christmas ‘bubble’ to meet at home during this period. To recognise the risks of loneliness and isolation, a single adult household will also be able to join this bubble, as in England.
- Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place.
Coronavirus thrives when we come together and there is always risk that as people come together to celebrate Christmas, they will catch or spread the virus. It is therefore important that in the run-up to 23 December, we do everything we can to make sure rates are low.
Unfortunately, coronavirus is again accelerating across Wales, eroding the gains we achieved during the firebreak period. The all-Wales rate has risen to almost 210 cases per 100,000 people and there are currently 1,000 people with confirmed coronavirus in our hospitals.
These are worrying figures and we need to take further, targeted action to protect people’s health and reduce the speed and spread of coronavirus, as well as creating as much headroom as possible as we approach the Christmas period to enable us to relax restrictions.
The restrictions will be strengthened to focus on places where we meet and where coronavirus thrives. We have drawn on the recent evidence from the UK Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, which has examined which interventions have had the biggest impact on the virus. It has highlighted the positive impact of measures in the Scottish level three system and the English tier three restrictions. We already have many of these in place in Wales and will adapt other measures to Wales’ unique circumstances.
From 6pm on Friday, our national measures will be amended to introduce new restrictions for hospitality and indoor attractions.
- Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes must close by 6pm and they will not be allowed to serve alcohol. After 6pm they will only be able to provide takeaway services.
- Indoor entertainment venues, including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres, casinos, skating rinks and amusement arcades, must close.
- Indoor visitor attractions, such as museums, galleries and heritage sites will also have to close. Outdoor visitor attractions will remain open.
The rest of the national measures will remain the same – there will be no changes to household bubbles, how many people can meet in public indoor or outdoor places or restrictions on other businesses.
We are looking at the current travel restrictions to make sure they are the right ones for Wales, in light of the imminent end of the month-long lockdown in England, and we will make a further announcement later this week.
The hospitality and visitor sectors have worked hard to comply with the many regulations to make their businesses compliant and to protect customers from the threat of coronavirus. I am very grateful for everything the sector has done. I know these new restrictions will be difficult as they come at the one of the busiest times of the year.
To support businesses we will make a further £340m package of support available through the Economic Resilience Fund. This includes a £180m fund targeted at hospitality and tourism businesses.
Taken together these measures continue our determination to protect both lives and livelihoods during the coronavirus crisis in Wales.
I am asking for the people of Wales’ help to again make a real difference to the course of this virus and ultimately to save lives. Together we will keep Wales safe.
I look forward to making a further statement in the Senedd tomorrow.