New Covid-19 restrictions come into force in Wales

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  • Mark Drakeford
    First Minister of Wales (born 1954)

Groups of no more than six people will be allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants in Wales from Boxing Day as new restrictions come into force.

Under a series of new measures announced by First Minister Mark Drakeford last week, the two-metre social distancing rules are returning in public places and workplaces.

Licensed premises will have to offer table service only, face masks will have to be worn and contact tracing details collected.

Outdoor events will be limited to 50 people, with 30 indoors – but numbers able to attend events such as weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and wakes will be determined by the size of the venue.

The rules, which come into force from 6am, are a revised version of alert level two.

The regulations bring back protections in hospitality businesses, including licensed premises, and in cinemas and theatres.

Nightclubs will also close.

The Night Time Industries Association described the measures as a “devastating blow” to the industry and urged the UK Government to reintroduce the furlough scheme.

Mr Drakeford said £120 million would be available for nightclubs, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses affected by the measures.

“We are facing a very serious situation in Wales. A wave of infections caused by the new, fast-moving and very infectious Omicron variant is headed our way,” he said.

“We will do everything we can to protect people’s health and livelihoods in Wales – this means taking early action to try and control its spread.”

There will be no restrictions on household mixing, but guidance will be issued about limiting the number of visitors, taking a lateral flow test before the visit, and meeting outdoors, if possible.

There will be a separate offence for large gatherings – more than 30 people indoors or 50 people outdoors – in private homes and gardens.

Mr Drakeford did not rule out introducing further restrictions in the new year, but said he hoped these measures would flatten the infection rate.

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