New Covid-19 restrictions in Wales: what are the rules and how do they affect hospitality?

The  Staff Canteen

Because their healthcare systems are under local governance, the devolved Nations of Britain have the right to adopt different strategies to address the coronavirus pandemic. 

And so, as England is set to enter another three-tier lockdown, Scotland persists with its five-tier system, Northern Ireland just entered its strictest lockdown since March, Wales exited a 7-day firebreak on November 9th.

But new restrictions affecting hospitality are set to come into force following a sharp rise in coronavirus infections - an increase of 31 per cent in less than two weeks. 

In a speech today, the Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, announced that should nothing be done, the nation will face up to 1,700 avoidable deaths and 2,200 total hospitalisations as a result of coronavirus in the next month.

Consequentially, as of Friday, pubs, restaurants and cafes will be banned from serving alcohol and unable to serve customers on premise after 6pm - similar to the Scottish Tier 3 rules.

Cinemas, bowling alleys, bingo halls, museums and galleries will also be required to close. 

Justifying the restrictions, Mark Drakeford said: "When people meet together in a hospitality setting, you're not just having a glancing encounter with somebody as you do if you're going round a supermarket - you're sitting together with people for a significant period of time."

The first minister said affected businesses would be offered a £340m support package which he called "the most generous anywhere in the UK," £180million of which will be allocated to companies in the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors.

He added: "I know these new restrictions will be difficult, coming as they do at the one of the busiest times of the year for the sector.

"Unfortunately, we continue to face a virus which is moving incredibly quickly across Wales and a virus that will exploit every opportunity when we spend time with one another."

Conservative leader for Wales, Paul Davies took issue with the new measures, which he said go against his party's policy of targeted interventions rather than blanket rules.

He called the new rules "devastating for many businesses across Wales, especially in the entertainment and hospitality industries."

He added that "they have already been hit for six by the pandemic and thousands of jobs are at risk," and that the Welsh government "must clarify its measures urgently to prevent further unnecessary anxiety and worry for those firms hanging by a thread and struggling to keep afloat."

Reactions in the industry were equally disparaging. 

 

The restrictions will be formally reviewed on December 17th, prior to the union-wide relaxation of rules for Christmas between 23rd-27th December.

On a brighter note, the first minister said the NHS in Wales had carried out a “large and successful test” in readiness for a vaccine being given the go-ahead, which he said "could be as early as this week - and we will be ready for it.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th November 2020

New Covid-19 restrictions in Wales: what are the rules and how do they affect hospitality?