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Welsh Minister for Health Vaughan Gething defends decision to ban pubs, bars and restaurants from selling alcohol in Wales

Welsh Minister for Health Vaughan Gething has defended the decision to ban pubs, bars and restaurants from selling alcohol in Wales from this evening.

As well as not being allowed to sell alcohol, the hospitality venues will also be required to close early.

Explaining that the decision was made on the evidence of what works, Mr Gething told Ben and Charlotte: "These aren’t new measures within the UK, they are new measures for Wales and they are based on the evidence of what works. We’ll be publishing more evidence about the direct impact hospitality appears to have and this isn’t about blaming the hospitality sector, it’s about the behaviour of all of us when we use hospitality venues and we face this awful choice of doing nothing and seeing our rates increase and more people not surviving or doing something like this."

Stating that there isn't a "consequence-free choice" when it comes to making decisions about how to stop the spread of the virus, Mr Gething continued: "Doing something has a real harm that comes with it as well. There isn’t a consequence-free choice to make but in the balance that we had to strike, this is what appears to be effective within the UK. There’s evidence supporting that and that’s a choice ministers have made and I don’t expect people in the hospitality sector to welcome this, but I hope they’ll understand not just the difficult choices we have but the responsibility we have to keep Wales safe."

Addressing the concerns that the ban could drive people into mixing elsewhere because they can still go and buy alcohol in supermarkets, Mr Gething said: "We know that it’s possible to shift drinking behaviour into different areas and yet we also have this evidence that this is effective and the challenge is that you don’t ever get a perfect policy response because some people will behave in different ways depending on the rules.

"We want the great majority of people to buy into the fact that we all need to look at what we should do, so we ask people to be responsible and to recognise the significance of the threat that we face."

He also explained that there will be a £340 billion package to support businesses affected.

"That’s in addition to the measures the UK government are taking. Those are the choices we’ve made, moving our budgets around to support businesses we know will be hardest hit."

"I don’t shy away from that and I won’t pretend it won’t have a really significant impact on those businesses at pretty much the worse time of year for them and I really do recognise that, but if we don’t act on the evidence, then I’m afraid we won’t be meeting our responsibilities to keep Wales safe and keep people alive," he added.

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