Wales will be placed under full lockdown from midnight tonight (December 19) with festive plans halted for all but Christmas Day.
Addressing the nation this afternoon, First Minister Mark Drakeford told people to “stay-at-home” after urgent talks with ministers over a new strain of coronavirus.
Rules had been due to be relaxed from December 23 to 28 to allow people to celebrate the holidays with loved-ones. However, Christmas Day is now the only day this will be allowed to take place.
“While we all want to avoid further disruption to businesses and plans for Christmas, our overriding duty is to protect lives here in Wales,” Drakeford said. “We know that 2021 will be a different and a better year.”
He added: “Our economy will recover. Christmas will come again.”
All of Wales will be placed into the highest level of lockdown – Level 4 – with all but essential shops closed. Gyms and beauty salons and non-essential shops will have to close at the end of trading today (December 19). Bars and restaurants will only be able to open for takeaways.
People will not be allowed to mix with anyone they do not live with, with only single person households allowed to form an exclusive support bubble with one other household. In addition, people can only travel for “essential reasons”.
In Scotland, its been announced that coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed on Christmas Day only and the country will then be placed under the tightest restrictions from Boxing Day (December 26).
A ban on travel to the rest of the UK will also apply over the festive period.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “firm preventative action” was needed after the emergence of a faster-spreading strain of coronavirus.
The country had planned to ease the rules between December 23 and 27, but that will now only apply on Christmas Day.
Sturgeon also announced that schools will return later than originally planned after the Christmas holidays. They should resume from January 11, with learning taking place online until at least January 18.
The news follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of tougher rules for Christmas in England, including a new fourth tier.
Johnson said the spread of the virus in many parts of South East England is now “being driven by the new variant of the virus”.
The new Tier 4 restrictions will affect London, the South East and East of England. They will come into force on Sunday morning (December 20) and last for two weeks and will be reviewed on December 30.