Businesses and families 'angered' at last-minute decision as national lockdown begins

  • Report by ITV Wales reporter Ian Lang

Businesses and families have been left ''angered'' as Wales heads into national lockdown, five days before Christmas and a week earlier than planned.

On Saturday evening, Mark Drakeford announced the country would be going into alert level four seven hours later at midnight.

It came after ''serious'' concerns grow about the spread of a new strain of the virus which ''hundreds'' of people are already suffering with across Wales.

Businesses in North Wales say they are disappointed at the last-minute decision. Phil Jones, who is a Head Chef in Beaumaris says businesses's Christmas stock which is worth thousands will end up ''in the bin.''

Likewise, families who had planned to see loved-ones over the Christmas period feel most hard done.

The initial relaxations of rules between December 23-27 have been scrapped. Two households are only able to meet on Christmas Day instead.

Ceridwen had plans to see her sister and mother over the Christmas period. Credit: Ceridwen Hughes

Ceridwen Hughes and her 15-year-old son, from Anglesey, had plans to spend the festive period with her sister and parents. She is unable to drive as she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, and was diagnoses with a spinal problem.

The 43-year-old also suffers from mental health issues and the support of family and friends is important.

The late decision has left her feeling ''angry.''

''The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, and I cannot imagine how difficult it has been for the government, councils, organisations, and employers to manage. But the new restrictions have made me feel a little angry, mainly because of the late decision.''

''Apart from getting shopping from the supermarket I have only been out 3 times since March – for a haircut, for a meal to celebrate my son's Birthday, and to drop toys off for the Christmas toy appeal. I was really hoping that levels would have reduced enough in time for Christmas.''

Bethan says she is worried about the impact spending Christmas alone will have on her grandma in Swansea.

The sentiment is echoed by those who were hoping to travel into Wales to see loved ones. Bethan Thomas, who lives in Kent, and was planning to see her grandmother in Wales - who lives alone.

''I planned to travel down on Christmas eve, stay over night and travel back boxing day but I can't even though I deem myself such low risk, not leaving the house for anything and then testing when I do.''

She hasn't visited her grandmother all year, and is worried about the impact it will have on her mentally.

''My grandma has to spend Christmas alone, I think this has had a huge physical and psychological impact on her health and she is usually such an outgoing, active womanI haven't seen her for a whole year.''

People queued outside stores in the capital. Credit: Wales News Service

On Saturday, Mark Drakeford urged people to not ''rush'' to shops after the news caused a flurry of people to head to stores across the country for last-minute shopping. Lines of queues were seen outside Smyths toy stores in both Swansea and Cardiff.

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