Coronavirus

Christmas in Lockdown: Wales brings new Tier 4 restrictions forward and throws Christmas plans into chaos

Swansea Bay and the rest of Wales went into Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions from midnight on Friday following a dramatic late-in-the-day announcement by the Welsh First Minister.

This means that people must stay at home, except for very limited purposes. People must not visit other households, or meet other people they do not live with. Many types of businesses are required to close, including gyms, hairdressers, hospitality and leisure centres. Two households will be allowed to meet for Christmas Day only.

In a statement Mark Drakeford, the First Minister said: “Today, I met the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Michael Gove, from the UK Government, to discuss the very latest information on a new strain of coronavirus.

“We now know that this new strain is significantly more infectious and spreads more quickly than the original one. Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister this afternoon setting out the pattern of transmission in London and the South East of England, which has been linked to this new variant of coronavirus. This is remarkably consistent with the rapid acceleration of transmission in Wales and the high rates of cases we have seen in recent weeks.

“The latest evidence suggests this new strain is present throughout Wales. Throughout the public health emergency, we have had to respond quickly to the rapid changes, which have been so typical of coronavirus.

“Today has been one of those days when new information has required an immediate response. This afternoon, the Cabinet met to discuss this worrying new development in the pandemic and to hear the latest advice from our senior medical and scientific advisers, including the impact on our NHS.

“The situation is incredibly serious. I cannot overstate this.

“We have therefore reached the difficult decision to bring forward the alert level four restrictions for Wales, in line with the action being taken in London and the South East of England. These new restrictions will come into effect from midnight tonight instead of during the Christmas period.

This will mean non-essential retail, close contact services, gyms and leisure centres and hospitality will close at the end of trading today. Stay-at-home restrictions will also come into effect from midnight.

“Unfortunately, we must also look again at the arrangements for Christmas – we cannot expose people to the risk of this new, more virulent strain of coronavirus.

“We will therefore change the current rules, which allow two households to come together to form a Christmas bubble over a five-day period, so that they will apply on Christmas Day only.

“Throughout the alert level four period, a single person household will be able to join with one other household.While we all want to avoid further disruption to businesses and plans for Christmas, our overriding duty is to protect lives here in Wales.We know that 2021 will be a different and a better year.

“Our economy will recover. Christmas will come again. But lives which are lost, are lost for ever.

“This new strain of the virus is another dreadful surprise in this long-running pandemic. We now have a pandemic within a pandemic, a crisis within a crisis.

“It is another challenge we must overcome. But one we will overcome together. We will continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and, together, we will keep Wales safe.”

What you must do at alert level 4

At alert level 4 you must:

  • Follow social distancing rules with people you don’t live with or who are not in your support bubble.
  • Wear a face covering (if you are able to) in all indoor public places.
  • Stay at home.
  • Not create an extended household (single adults or single parents may join with one other household to form an exclusive support bubble).
  • Meet only the people you live with or your support bubble indoors.
  • Meet only your household or support bubble in private gardens.
  • Meet only your household or support bubble outdoors. 
  • Work from home if you can. 
  • Not travel without reasonable excuse. 
  • Not travel internationally without reasonable excuse.

What can open at alert level 4

  • Schools, colleges and childcare providers (informal childcare should only be essential only).
  • Higher Education Institutions (mix of in-person and remote learning).
  • Places of worship.
  • Community centres – limited opening (for example, for essential public services).
  • Crematoriums
  • Playgrounds and public parks
  • Weddings and funerals (ceremony limit set by venue).

What must be closed at alert level 4

  • Venues for events and conferences
  • Theatres and concert halls
  • Indoor and outdoor visitor attractions
  • Entertainment venue
  • Wedding reception or wake
  • Sport courts, golf courses
  • Leisure and fitness facilities
  • Outdoor visitor attractions
  • Holiday accommodation (open only if essential only, for example for work or other reasons)
  • Hospitality (except for takeaway and delivery)
  • Close contact services
  • Non-essential retail (click and collect allowed)
  • Licenced premises. Takeaway and delivery only between 6am and 10pm
  • Libraries and archive services (click and collect only)
  • Organised activities limited to public and voluntary services
  • Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues

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