The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, will set out a two-phase plan later today (17 December) to respond to rising cases of both the Covid Delta variant and the new Omicron variant.
In the run-up to Christmas, the Welsh Government will be encouraging to reduce their contacts with others, space out socialising, and meet outdoors rather than indoors if possible.
Then from Monday 27 December nightclubs will be ordered to close; a two-metre rule on social distancing will be ordered in offices; and businesses will be ordered to put extra measures in place such as one-way systems and physical barriers.
The Welsh Government has announced up to £60m will be available to support businesses affected by the new restrictions, although it is not clear yet how this will be distributed and which businesses specifically will be entitled to the funding.
“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," says Drakeford.
“Omicron poses a new threat to our health and safety. It is the most serious development in the pandemic to date.
“It is one we must take seriously. We will continue to put in place proportionate measures to protect people’s lives and livelihoods."
The Welsh Government claims the decision to close nightclubs is 'needed to help control the spread of Omicron'.
However, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents 1,200 independent bars, clubs and live music venues across the UK, says the Welsh Government has 'purposefully placed restrictions on an industry with no supporting evidence'.
“We are astounded at the actions of the Welsh Government this evening, the consistent targeting of the nightclub and late night economy sector has gone too far,” says Michael Kill, CEO NTIA.
“It is very clear that the Welsh Government have purposefully placed restrictions on an industry with no supporting evidence.
“Nightclubs and the late night economy have been at the sharpest end of the pandemic, and have upheld the Public Heath Strategy within Wales for over two years, with closures and mounting debts.
“We have been placed in an untenable position and will now have no choice but to come out fighting.
“The sector will be considering it’s legal options following this announcement.”