Wales will enter a Level 4 ‘lockdown’ from midnight tonight, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced.
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.
Wales had been set to enter level 4 lockdown after Christmas, but the restrictions have been brought forward following concerns that a new strain of coronavirus was spreading at fast rate.
In a written statement, Mark Drakeford 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.”
Can I still meet with family over Christmas?
Mr Drakeford also issued new rules for meeting others over Christmas – only two households can come together to form a bubble on Christmas Day only – instead of the previously announced five-day period.
A single person household will be able to join with one other household.
Mr Drakeford said: “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.”
What are the level 4 restrictions?
The new level 4 restrictions are the most severe alert level in the Welsh Government’s Coronavirus Control Plan.
It mirrors restrictions implemented during Wales’ ‘fire break’ in October and November, and the first lockdown in March and April.
Non-essential businesses including retail, leisure facilities and gyms will be required to close.
All hospitality including pubs, restaurants and accommodation providers will also be required to close.
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