Wales is to move to tough level 4 restrictions next week in a bid to curb rapidly accelerating covid-19 rates, including the closure of hospitality venues and non-essential shops
First Minister Mark Drakeford said the current conditions mean Wales has met the criteria in the devolved nation’s new traffic-light Coronavirus Control Plan to move to alert level four.
The latest restrictions will apply to all of Wales.
All non-essential retail, including close contact services such as hairdressers, and all gyms and leisure facilities will close at the end of trading on Christmas Eve.
All hospitality premises will close from 6pm on Christmas Day.
Tighter restrictions on household mixing, staying-at-home, holiday accommodation and travel will apply from December 28, after the five-day Christmas period.
The First Minister urged everyone who can to work from home, saying it is one of the most important contributions we can all make to controlling the spread of coronavirus and saving lives.
Alan Price, CEO of HR software and employment law advice service, BrightHR, said: ‘Almost like a bad Christmas gift, this latest update to coronavirus restrictions in Wales is probably the last thing businesses in that country wanted to hear. Once again, businesses in Wales are going to have to consider what the impact of this will mean.
‘From 28 December, Wales will go into a level 4 lockdown, the highest level of restrictions in that country. Once again, many businesses will be forced to close, including those in the hospitality industry, non-essential retail and close contact services.
‘Employers should remember that the furlough scheme remains available to all eligible businesses and should consider if the scheme could help them to retain staff through this difficult period. As a reminder, companies can furlough staff for the first time, even if they have never made use of the scheme before.
‘Meanwhile, people will be told to stay at home as much as possible unless travelling for essential purposes, such as for work. Guidance on homeworking, however, will not change from what it has remained in Wales since the first lockdown back in March; everyone who can work from home should do so.
‘With all four UK nations remaining committed to going ahead with previous plans to relax coronavirus restrictions over Christmas, it remains to be seen if the other devolved nations will follow suit with harsher restrictions as December ends and January begins. To this end, employers across the UK should remain vigilant for any updates from the government.’
Mark Drakeford said: ‘We are seeing levels of coronavirus in some parts of the country that we haven’t experienced at any point before in this pandemic. This pandemic is putting our NHS under intense and sustained strain.’
The four UK governments also met today to confirm the common arrangements for the five-day Christmas period. Joint advice will be published later today.
Revised guidance for Wales means that only two households will be able to come together to form an exclusive Christmas bubble during the five-day relaxation of the current covid-19 rules.