New Covid restrictions for pubs, bars and restaurants in Wales from next Friday

There will be new restrictions on pubs, bars and restaurants in Wales in the run-up to Christmas, the First Minister has confirmed.

Speaking at the Welsh Government's briefing, Mark Drakeford said there is a need to "make sure we have as much headroom as possible" to enable families to meet over Christmas.

He gave no further details, but told journalists that the new hospitality rules will be finalised over the weekend and will begin next Friday.

Cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will close, he added, but non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms and leisure centres will remain open.

  • Watch First Minister Mark Drakeford discuss the latest set of rules for Wales here.

Speaking to ITV Wales the minister said that the government had designed the system that would work best for Wales in the long-run.

"We design the system that works best for Wales and this will protect the areas in which the fire-break period has been positive and it will turn the tide back in other places where we have seen a rise," he said.

Mr Drakeford also said a "major" financial support package would be put in place for the industry and that he would provide more information about this on Monday.

But critics have called it a "death sentence" for businesses trying to "make an honest living".

The already-struggling sector has grown increasingly desperate for clarity as speculation builds over what might happen in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

The First Minister said: "The sector has worked hard to put in place measures to protect the public and I know this will be a worrying time for all working in the industry.

"All this is necessary because we need a further national effort to bring down rates in those parts of the country where they are high and to protect those areas from getting any worse, where cases are lower.

"None of us want to see further restrictions on our daily lives or our economy. But we are facing a virus, which is both cruel and relentless, especially in its pursuit of the most vulnerable. It is speeding up as we move further into winter and it thrives in all those places where we come into close contact with one another.

"By adding to the actions we take now, we can prepare responsibly for Christmas."

Critics have described the new restrictions as a "death sentence" for the hospitality industry. Credit: PA Images

Mandy Jones MS, of Reform UK, said: "The first minister has just announced a death sentence to a number of businesses in Wales.

"There has been no assessment of the mental health damage, impact on other treatments or economic situation it will cause.

"Any further restrictions, including curfews, must be based on solid evidence of transmissions.

"Government should focuses its attention where it is warranted and not on businesses that really are doing everything possible to support your aims and make an honest living."

Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru's Helen Mary Jones accused the First Minister of creating uncertainty by "making an announcement without making an announcement".

The First Minister confirmed there will be no tier system introduced for Wales. Instead, a single set of restrictions will apply to the whole of Wales as Christmas approaches.

In England, a strengthened tier regime comes into force in England from Wednesday.

Northern Ireland today starts a new two-week lockdown and Scotland has extended the highest level restrictions.

The tightening of rules across the UK is to allow the four UK leaders to prepare for Christmas.

A five-day period has been agreed between December 23 and 27 where travel restrictions will be lifted across the UK and up to three households will be able to form a Christmas bubble.

It comes as Public Health Wales reported 21 further deaths with coronavirus on Friday, taking the total in Wales to 2,494.

The organisation also confirmed that there had been 1,105 new cases of the virus reported within the last 24-hour period.

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