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Wales expected to announce hospitality restrictions

The Welsh government is expected to announce pre-Christmas restrictions on pubs and restaurants in the country in a briefing today.

Pubs, bars and restaurants in Wales were allowed to reopen on 9 November after the country’s so-called ‘firebreak’.

First Minister Mark Drakeford, however, is expected to announce new restrictions on the sector in the run-up to the festive period. Once unveiled, the new rules will come into force this Friday (4 December).

BBC Wales reports that the government has been looking into adopting a model similar to tier three restrictions in Scotland, whereby hospitality outlets can open, but are banned from serving alcohol and must close by 6pm.

Drakeford said last Friday that the restrictions were necessary in order to “create more headroom for the Christmas period”.

Of the new restrictions, which will be applied across the whole of Wales, he said: “We will focus these on places where we meet and where coronavirus thrives, drawing on the recent evidence from the UK Sage group of experts about what interventions have had the biggest impact on the virus.

“It has highlighted the positive impact of measures in the Scottish level three system and the English tier three restrictions. We are already doing many of these here in Wales. Any additional actions we will take will build on the Sage advice but will be bespoke to our unique circumstances.”

Cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will also be told to close, but non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms and leisure centres will be allowed to stay open.

Commenting on the plight of the hospitality industry, Drakeford added: “The sector has worked hard to put in place measures to protect the public and I know this will be a worrying time for all working in the industry.”

He said he would implement a “further major package of financial support”, which would be in response to the changes made.

Northern Ireland has recently entered a two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ to control the spread of coronavirus. Hospitality outlets, except for those offering takeaway or delivery services, have been ordered to close. Scotland, which is currently operating under its five tier system, has also ordered hospitality to close in areas under the tightest restrictions. Meanwhile, England is due to come out of its national lockdown on 2 December, with restaurants, pubs and bars operating under a new enhanced tier system.

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