Covid: People urged to limit socialising in Wales with nightclubs due to close after Christmas

  • Watch Live: First Minister Mark Drakeford gives Covid update

People in Wales are being "strongly advised" to limit socialising in the lead up to Christmas with new Covid restrictions coming into force from the 27th of December.

First Minister Mark Drakeford will set out a "two-phase plan" on Friday to respond to the Delta and Omicron coronavirus variants.

The omicron variant is expected to be the dominant form of the virus in the UK by the end of the month.

From December 27th nightclubs in Wales will have to close and there will be new restrictions - including a 2m social distancing rule for businesses, as well as other measures to protect customers and staff.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Delta will continue to be the main cause of coronavirus infections in Wales up to Christmas. But we are seeing cases of omicron increasing rapidly every day in Wales – and across the UK. 

“We need a plan to keep us safe this Christmas and we need stronger measures to protect us afterwards, as we prepare for a large wave of omicron infections.

“Omicron poses a new threat to our health and safety. It is the most serious development in the pandemic to date.

“It is one we must take seriously. We will continue to put in place proportionate measures to protect people’s lives and livelihoods.

“This is a virus which thrives on human contact. Every contact we have is an opportunity for us to spread or catch the virus.”  

As of Thursday, there have been 95 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Wales but Public Health Wales have said "a rapid increase over the coming days and weeks is expected.”

Mr Drakeford has previously warned that some estimates suggest "half of the population of the United Kingdom will fall ill" from Covid during the next wave of the virus.

What does this mean for Christmas?

Although new restrictions are not being introduced before Christmas, people are being encouraged to limit how much they socialise over the coming week.

The Welsh Government is "strongly advising" people to follow these five measures in the run up to Christmas:

  • Get vaccinated

  • Take a lateral low test before seeing people

  • Meet outdoors rather than indoors

  • Space out your socialising over time

  • Wear a face mask and wash your hands.

People will be required to work from home wherever possible.

Credit: PA

What about after Christmas?

From the 27th of December, Wales will essentially move into Alert Level 2 although not all restrictions will be adopted.

Nightclubs will have to close and the new restrictions mean that hospitality, sports and entertainment venues will most likely see significantly reduced capacity.

People will have to follow 2m social distancing rules with those who are not part of their household, or exclusive extended household, and face covering will have to be worn in all indoor public places.

Businesses will also be expected to put measures in place to protect customers and staff, such as one-way systems and physical barriers.

People will continue to be required to work from home whenever possible.

Up to £60m will be available to support businesses affected by the new restrictions.

Mr Drakeford said: "This year a smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas. The fewer people we see, the less chance we have of catching or passing on the virus.

“Please enjoy Christmas with your nearest and dearest – and think about meeting up with wider circles of friends when the threat posed by the omicron variant has passed over.

“I also want to thank the many thousands of people who will be working this Christmas to keep us safe – especially all those who have cancelled their plans to work in the vaccination centres across Wales to increase our protection against this awful virus.”

The Welsh Government have not announced any restrictions on gathering within households.