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Background

Strengthened measures to keep Wales safe as omicron strikes

Written by on 22nd December 2021

New measures will be introduced from 6am on Boxing Day to help keep Wales safe.

The measures are a revised version of alert level two to respond to the new omicron variant and are designed to help keep businesses open and trading and protect customers and staff.

The regulations bring back protections in hospitality businesses, including licensed premises, and in cinemas and theatres when they re-open after the festive period.

Strengthened guidance will be issued to help people stay safe in their own homes and when meeting others.

£120m will be available for nightclubs, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses affected by the move to alert level two – double the new £60m package announced last week.

The Economy Minister will announce further details tomorrow (23 December).

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“We are facing a very serious situation in Wales. A wave of infections caused by the new, fast-moving and very-infectious omicron variant is headed our way.

“This new form of coronavirus could infect large numbers of people in Wales, disrupting daily lives and businesses and could cause an increase in the number of people who need hospital care in the coming weeks.

“We will do everything we can to protect people’s health and livelihoods in Wales – this means taking early action to try and control its spread.

“We are changing the rules for businesses and some public spaces, where lots of different people mix daily and issuing strong and clear advice to help people stay safe in their own private homes and when meeting others.” 

From Boxing Day, the alert level two measures will mean:

  • A general requirement of 2m social distancing in all premises open to the public and workplaces, where reasonable.
  • The rule of six will apply to gatherings in regulated premises, such as hospitality, cinemas and theatres.
  • All licensed premises will need to take additional measures to protect customers and staff, including table service and collecting contact details.
  • Face coverings will be required in hospitality settings at all times apart from when seated.
  • Large events will not be allowed indoors or outdoors. The maximum number of people who can gather at an indoor event will be 30 and 50 outdoors.
  • There will be an exception for team sports, up to 50 spectators will be able to gather, in addition to those taking part. There is also an exception for events involving children.

Last week new measures were announced for workplaces and retail – these will now come into force on Boxing Day. Nightclubs will also close on Boxing Day.

The Welsh Government will not be making new rules about mixing in people’s private homes, including gardens, in holiday accommodation or meeting outdoors. Instead guidance will be issued to help people stay safe.

To help you stay safe in your own home, we strongly advise everyone follows these five measures:

  • Limit the number of people visiting your home.
  • If people are visiting, make sure they take a lateral flow test in the morning before the visit.
  • Meeting outdoors is better than indoors. If you’re meeting indoors make sure it’s well ventilated.
  • Space out any visits.
  • And don’t forget about social distancing and washing your hands.

There will be a separate offence for large gatherings – more than 30 people indoors or 50 people outdoors – in private homes and gardens.

The First Minister added:

 “The most important thing we can all do to protect ourselves against omicron is to be fully vaccinated – that means also having the booster. If you are eligible for a booster then please make getting it a priority in the coming weeks.

“As we enter our second winter of the pandemic, we have high vaccination coverage and tens of thousands of extra boosters are being given every day.

“We also have access to the rapid lateral flow tests to help us all identify signs of infection without symptoms.

“Both of these, together with everything we have learned over the last two years will help to keep us safe at home without the need for new rules and regulations about mixing at home.”