The Welsh government will bring in new restrictions including closing nightclubs and imposing a 2-metre social distancing rule in offices from 27 December to try to combat the Omicron variant and has issued “strong guidance” over how to stay safe over Kersfees.
The first minister, Mark Drakeford, said the new legally enforceable regulations were needed to counter what he called the most serious development in the pandemic to date.
Drakeford is strongly advising people to celebrate the festive season only with their nearest and dearest, saying a “smaller Christmas” will be a safer one.
From the day after Boxing Day, Wallis will introduce fresh legal restrictions, including a 2-metre social distancing rule in offices and putting extra measures in place to protect customers and staff, such as one-way systems and physical barriers.
Nightclubs will also close and the government is to make up to £60m available to support businesses affected by the new restrictions.
Drakeford said: “Delta will continue to be the main cause of coronavirus infections in Wales up to Christmas. But we are seeing cases of Omicron increasing rapidly every day in Wales – and across the UK.
“We need a plan to keep us safe this Christmas and we need stronger measures to protect us afterwards, as we prepare for a large wave of Omicron infections. Omicron poses a new threat to our health and safety.”
On Friday the first minister will use a press conference in Cardiff to spell out five steps that he wants all Welsh citizens to follow now.
Drakeford added: “This year a smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas. The fewer people we see, the less chance we have of catching or passing on the virus. Enjoy Christmas with your nearest and dearest – and think about meeting up with wider circles of friends when the threat posed by the Omicron variant has passed over.”
The return to school for pupils in Wales will be delayed by at least two days to give teachers time to plan for a possible return to remote learning.
Schools will be asked to use the time to look at whether they will need to bring in further Covid mitigation measures to deal with the Omicron surge and draw up contingency plans to make sure pupils taking exams are prioritised. Headteachers will also be allowed to operate staggered start and finish times.