Wales Covid rules: What are new restrictions from Boxing Day - and what has Mark Drakeford said about them?

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has introduced measures to combat the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant

<p>Mark Drakeford described the Omicron situation in Wales as “serious” and warned that “a wave of infections is headed our way” (image: Getty Images)</p>

Mark Drakeford described the Omicron situation in Wales as “serious” and warned that “a wave of infections is headed our way” (image: Getty Images)

Wales has introduced stringent Covid restrictions today (Boxing Day) in a bid to combat the spread of the Omicron Covid strain in the country.

Social distancing measures and the ‘rule of six’ are among the rules that have been brought back by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.

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It is unclear how long these rules will remain in place for.

The news has come as confirmed Omicron cases in Wales rose to 740, although not all cases are likely to have been picked up.

So what exactly are the new measures that have come in today - and what did Mark Drakeford say when he announced them?

What new rules have come in?

At 6am on Boxing Day, Wales moved to a revised version of its ‘Alert Level Two’ coronavirus measures.

Mr Drakeford said the rules have been designed to help keep businesses open and trading.

Compulsory mask wearing, the rule of six and social distancing measures are set to return in Wales (image: Getty Images)

Here are the key restrictions that have come into effect:

  • A general requirement of two-metre social distancing in all premises open to the public as well as workplaces, where reasonable
  • The rule of six, which limits mixing between households, will apply to gatherings in regulated premises, such as hospitality, cinemas and theatres
  • All licensed premises must take additional precautions to protect customers and staff, such as bringing back table service and collecting contact details for track and trace purposes. Nightclubs have closed
  • Face coverings have become mandatory in hospitality settings at all times, other than when you’re seated
  • Large events are not allowed, even if they take place outdoors. The maximum number of people who can gather at an indoor event is 30, while the permitted number outdoors is 50
  • There is an exception for team sports, where up to 50 spectators will be able to gather, in addition to those taking part. There is also an exception for events involving children

The Welsh Government said it would not bring in new curbs on social mixing in private homes, gardens, or in holiday accommodation.

Instead, guidance has been issued in an attempt to nudge people to be safe.

It includes limiting social contacts, taking lateral flow tests before any social visits and meeting outdoors, where possible.

Table service and contact tracing will once again become mandatory in Wales at the end of this week (image: Getty Images)

Gatherings like weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and wakes are not subject to the same limits as other indoor or outdoor events, although the FM said the numbers allowed to attend these ceremonies will depend on how well venues can accommodate social distancing measures.

Alongside the new Covid rules, Mr Drakeford announced on Wednesday (22 December) that £120m would be made available to nightclubs, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism firms affected by the move to the new alert level.

Meanwhile, workers in Wales could face fines of £60 should they go into their office unnecessarily after the Christmas holidays.

The Welsh Government has changed legislation to make it a criminal offence to attend a workplace when you can work from home.

What did Mark Drakeford say?

During his announcement last week, the First Minister described the Omicron situation in Wales as “serious” and warned that “a wave of infections is headed our way”.

“[Omicron] could infect large numbers of people in Wales, disrupting daily lives and businesses, and could cause an increase in the number of people who need hospital care in the coming weeks,” Mr Drakeford said.

“We will do everything we can to protect people’s health and livelihoods in Wales – this means taking early action to try and control its spread.

“We are changing the rules for businesses and some public spaces, where lots of different people mix daily, and issuing strong and clear advice to help people stay safe in their own private homes and when meeting others.”

Mr Drakeford also urged people to prioritise becoming fully vaccinated by getting the booster jab.

“As we enter our second winter of the pandemic, we have high vaccination coverage and tens of thousands of extra boosters are being given every day,” he said.

“We also have access to the rapid lateral flow tests to help us all identify signs of infection without symptoms.

“Both of these, together with everything we have learned over the last two years, will help to keep us safe at home without the need for new rules and regulations about mixing at home.”

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