Last-minute queues before Wales heads into national lockdown

Credit: Wales News Service

Queues have formed outside shops across Wales after the first minister announced Wales will go into lockdown from midnight.

Pictures on social media show large groups of people lined up outside toy shops, and other retailers before they are forced to close.

But Mark Drakeford urged people to not ''rush to the shops'' as queues continued to grow. On Twitter, he said the best gift to loved-ones would be a ''coronavirus-free Christmas.''

People queued outside stores in the capital. Credit: Wales News Service
Trostre Retail Park in Llanelli on Saturday night. Credit: Twitter / @eeehicks

On Saturday evening, the Welsh Government announced Wales would enter alert level four, equivalent to a national lockdown, at midnight.

Rules had been due to be relaxed to allow people to celebrate the festive break with families from 23 to 28 December, however the rules will only be relaxed for Christmas day only - similar to England.

It comes after growing concerns about the spread of a new coronavirus strain, which the first minister called ''serious.''

There new variant of coronavirus has been identified in Wales. Credit: PA

Sara Jones, Head of the Welsh Retail Consortium said news of a national lockdown and closing of non-essential retail is ''hugely regrettable'' and the consequences will be ''severe''.

''Retailers have invested hundreds of millions of pounds making stores Covid-secure for customers and staff. The consequences of this decision will be severe. Faced with this news – and the prospect of losing £100m per week in sales for the third time this year – many businesses will be in serious difficulty and many thousands of jobs could be at risk.''

The new strain, which has been linked to the faster spread of Covid-19 in the south of England, was identified in Wales earlier this week. The Welsh Government said they expect more to be identified.

Mr Drakeford said the Welsh Government had to ''respond quickly to the rapid changes.''