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Wales to face new coronavirus restrictions after Christmas amid omicron spread

Wales to face new coronavirus restrictions after Christmas amid omicron spread

The Welsh Government is to introduce new coronavirus restrictions after Christmas including tightened regulations on social distancing, it has been announced this evening.

The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford is to set out a two-phase plan on Friday for tackling both the delta and omicron variants of COVID-19 in Wales. Guidance will strongly urge people ahead of Christmas to get vaccinated, take a lateral flow test before going out, meet outdoors where possible, space out social events and remember to adhere to social distancing.

After Christmas, on 27 December, new legal restrictions will come into force in Wales, closing nightclubs and requiring 2m social distancing in offices. Extra measures will also be required to protect customers and staff, such as one-way systems and physical barriers.

Speaking about the plans, First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said;

"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. 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."

Mr 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.

"Please 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.

"I also want to thank the many thousands of people who will be working this Christmas to keep us safe – especially all those who have cancelled their plans to work in the vaccination centres across Wales to increase our protection against this awful virus."

According to the Welsh Government, the current delta variant is expected to be the dominant variant up to Christmas, though omicron cases are increasing rapidly each day.

£60m of support has been announced by the Welsh Government to support businesses affected by the new restrictions. 

The current data around the omicron variant of COVID-19 is somewhat limited, though the variant is believed to be highly transmissible - with record numbers of COVID-19 cases being recorded in the UK in recent days. The extent to which the virus variant can cause serious illness and death is not yet fully understood.

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