Saturday, 25 June 2022 – 21:02

Wales to enter Alert Level 4 lockdown at midnight

Wales is to move into an Alert Level Four lockdown earlier than planned, with new stay at home restrictions coming into force at midnight tonight.

On Wednesday, First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford announced that Wales would be moving into a new lockdown under Alert Level 4 of the country’s Coronavirus Control Plan. Under the original plans, new stay-at-home restrictions would have come into force on 28 November, with non-essential retail closing on Christmas Eve and hospitality closing on Christmas Day – however, these plans have now been brought forward.

In a statement on Saturday evening, Mr Drakeford said;

“This afternoon, the Cabinet met to discuss this worrying new development in the pandemic and to hear the latest advice from our senior medical and scientific advisers, including the impact on our NHS.

“The situation is incredibly serious. I cannot overstate this.

“We have therefore reached the difficult decision to bring forward the alert level four restrictions for Wales, in line with the action being taken in London and the South East of England.

“These new restrictions will come into effect from midnight tonight instead of during the Christmas period.

“This will mean non-essential retail, close contact services, gyms and leisure centres and hospitality will close at the end of trading today.”

The decision comes following a call between the First Ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland earlier on Saturday with UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove to discuss the new strain of COVID-19. The announcement comes following the announcement of new ‘Tier 4’ restrictions for millions of people in England, plus a reduction in the planned easing of restrictions over the Christmas period.

In Wales, the rules for the Christmas period are to be changed again, meaning that the mixing of ‘Christmas bubbles’ will now only be allowed to take place on Christmas Day.

 

Is the new strain of COVID-19 prevalent in Wales?

According to Mr Drakeford, evidence suggests that the new strain is ‘present throughout Wales’ and that the increased pattern of virus transmission in London and South East England is ‘remarkably consistent with the rapid acceleration of transmission in Wales and the high rates of cases we have seen in recent weeks.’

The new strain is thought to be significantly more infectious and spreads more quickly than the original strain of the virus.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that the new strain of the virus could be up to 70% more transmissible, according to early data.

 

What does Alert Level Four involve?

Alert Level Four (very high risk) is the highest alert level in Wales’ updated Coronavirus Control Plan that was set out earlier this week.

Under the highest alert level, people will be urged to stay at home whenever possible and to not travel without a reasonable excuse. The following venues will be closed;

  • Event and conference venues
  • Theatres and concert halls
  • Hospitality (except for takeaway and delivery)
  • Close contact services
  • Non-essential retail and libraries (except for click and collect services)
  • All visitor attractions and entertainment venues (indoors and outdoors)
  • Sports courts, golf courses, leisure and fitness facilities
  • Holiday accommodation
  • Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues
  • Organised activities (except public and voluntary services)

The following venues will remain open;

  • Schools, colleges and childcare providers 
  • Higher Education institutions
  • Places of worship
  • Community centres for essential public services
  • Crematoriums
  • Playgrounds and public parks
  • Weddings and funerals (with limited capacity)
  • Essential retail
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