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Welsh pubs and restaurants banned from serving alcohol and must close at 6pm from Friday

Rob Merrick
·2-min read
<p>Cinemas, bingo halls, skating rinks and casinos in Wales will also be ordered to shut</p> (Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Cinemas, bingo halls, skating rinks and casinos in Wales will also be ordered to shut

(Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales will close at 6pm from Friday and will be banned from serving alcohol, under new hardline measures.

Indoor entertainment venues – including cinemas, bingo halls, skating rinks and casinos – will also be ordered to shut, the first minister of Wales said.

Mark Drakeford said Covid-19 infection rates were rising sharply and warned of up to 1,700 “preventable deaths” over the winter months unless tough action was taken now.

On the threat of the virus spreading in hospitality venues, he warned: “The evidence is there – when you get together in that way, the virus thrives; the cases rise.”

Before the five-day Christmas relaxation of restrictions across the UK, it was essential to ensure that “the risk to one another and to our health service can be contained”, Mr Drakeford told a press conference.

Gyms and leisure centres will stay open because of the “mental health benefits to people of being able to take exercise”.

And two households will still be able to meet together in a home, to confront “loneliness and isolation”, although – Mr Drakeford admitted – “it does bring risks with it”.

However, coronavirus was “accelerating across Wales” and the gains achieved during the country’s 17-day “firebreak” lockdown, which ended on 9 November, were being eroded, he said.

Furthermore, scientific and medical advisers believe that, without further restrictions now, the number of people in hospital in Wales with Covid-19 could rise to 2,200 people by 12 January.

“From 6pm on Friday, our national measures will be amended to introduce new restrictions for hospitality and indoor entertainment attractions,” Mr Drakeford said.

“Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will have to close by 6pm and will not be allowed to serve alcohol. After 6pm they will only be able to provide takeaway services.”

He promised “the most generous package of financial assistance anywhere in the UK”, including £180m for tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses.

Grants of up to £5,000 will go to about 60,000 businesses, while those without a rateable value could apply for discretionary grants of up to £2,000.

There was no immediate announcement of new restrictions on travelling between Wales and England, but that could still follow after the lockdown east of the border ends on Wednesday.

Asked why diners could not have “a glass of wine with lunch”, Mr Drakeford said the expert advice was that the Scottish model of hospitality restrictions was the most effective.

“You can always find a reason to chip away at the restrictions we are putting in place,” he said.

“The effect of that, cumulatively, is that you undermine the effectiveness of the measures that you are taking.

“That is why we decided to stick with the Scottish example, which Sage [the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] says has been successful.”

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