New Covid-19 restrictions planned for Wales as cases climb again

Further national restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus will come into effect across Wales next week, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced.

Cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will close and new rules will be introduced for the hospitality industry next Friday.

But the new restrictions will not apply to non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms and leisure centres.

Mr Drakeford said the restrictions will cover the whole of Wales and a package of financial support will be announced for businesses affected.

The First Minister told the Welsh Government briefing that the two-week firebreak enforced during October had brought down Covid-19 infection rates, but there has since been a steady rise – especially among the under-25s.

He said the hospital system is under “sustained pressure”, with more than 1,700 people with Covid-19 being treated.

The new restrictions are being designed to allow a relaxation of the rules over the Christmas period, Mr Drakeford said.

He told the briefing: “There is always a risk when we come together we will spread or catch the virus.

“We therefore need to have as much headroom as possible as we approach the Christmas period to enable that relaxation to take place.

“This week we have seen restrictions tightened and extended in many countries across the whole of Europe.

“The UK Government has announced a strengthened tier regime which will come into force in England from Wednesday.

“Today Northern Ireland begins a new two-week lockdown period, and Scotland has this week extended the highest level restrictions there.

Mark Drakeford
Mark Drakeford

“We too need to use the coming weeks to reduce the spread of the virus and to create more headroom for the Christmas period.

“That doesn’t mean a return to firebreak arrangements, but the Cabinet has agreed to take further specific and targeted action to reinforce the current national arrangements we have in place.

“We will focus on those places where we meet and where coronavirus thrives, drawing on the recent evidence from (scientific advisers) Sage about those interventions that have the greatest impact on the virus.

“Any additional actions we will take will build on that Sage advice but will be designed to meet the unique circumstances we face in our country.”