New Year, Same Restrictions: Will people in Wales be crossing the border to celebrate?

  • Video report by ITV Wales' Carole Green

With nightclubs and further Covid restrictions still in place across Wales, thousands are expected to cross the border to celebrate New Year's Eve tonight.

England is the only nation in the UK where nightclubs are open but those planning to travel are urged to "think hard" about the consequences by Wales' First Minister.

Mark Drakeford has added his voice to appeals from the emergency services to consider the risks.

But as one of the biggest nights of the year approaches, many hospitality businesses are facing another difficult new year with restrictions and are already feeling the effects.

Nick Newman, chair of the Cardiff Licensees Forum, said: "It's going to have a drastic effect on already reduced capacities, so we're not going to get the New Year's Eve we should be getting and normally would be getting."

"People will definitely be leaving Cardiff to go to Bristol tonight. I've spoken to a few people today who are part or organising coach trips over to Bristol.

He added that the forum had already lost six businesses during the course of the pandemic and feels hospitality is being wrongly attacked.

"From a business point of view and alongside the people that I work with, it's this uncertainty. The uncertainty we feel is brought into the equation by the Welsh Government continually targeting hospitality when there's no justification for doing so."

Kingdom Thenga has experienced the differences in restrictions first-hand with nightclubs on both sides of the border, in Wrexham and Chester.

The business owner has seen 70% of Welsh party bookings cancelled compared to his other venue just five miles the other side of the border.

Chester will be expecting more North Walians than usual this New Year's Eve.

It comes as scientists warn there will be another peak of Covid cases in January, as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the UK.

Nightclubs in Wales have been shut since Boxing Day, and social distancing, the 'rule of six' and table service have been reinforced in pubs and bars.

In response to rising cases and new restrictions, the Welsh Government have announced a £120 million support scheme to help those businesses affected including nightclubs and bars.

A £120 million support scheme has been announced to help those businesses affected. Credit: PA

To help cope with those travelling across the border to celebrate, Transport for Wales have put in extra security measures but urge customers in Wales to follow Welsh Government guidelines.

A spokesperson explained: "With the prevalence of the Omicron variant, it is advised that people be mindful of the potential risks of social gatherings as they make plans, including travel arrangements, for New Year's Eve.

"Like many other large organisations, TfW and Network Rail both have a number of staff off work due to a positive Covid test or awaiting the results of a test.

"Unfortunately, this means there will be occasions where some services have to be amended or cancelled at short notice and passengers are advised to always check the latest travel information before and during their journeys."

Speaking on the issue, the Welsh Government emphasised: "The omicron variant is causing a rapid rise in coronavirus cases across Wales.

"Already, people are off work sick, putting essential services under strain and we expect this situation to get worse.

"Wales is at alert level two - new protections have been put into place to help businesses continue to trade and updated and strengthened guidance has been issued to help people stay safe in their homes.

"We all need to do everything we can to protect ourselves and keep Wales safe."