Get fined £60 for going to work in Wales – but you can go to the pub
The Welsh government said it will fine employees who go into the office when they could work from home – but six people can meet in a pub.
From Monday, Welsh workers will receive a £60 fixed penalty notice and companies hit with fines of £1,000 every time they break the newly introduced rule about working from home.
The Wales Trades Union Congress (Wales TUC) has expressed ‘shock and concern’ at the decision.
Shavanah Taj, Wales TUC general secretary, said: “A worker is not responsible for their place of work, their employer is. This sets a really worrying precedent that the responsibility is somehow shared, and is at best naïve. We hope Welsh Government urgently repeals this to remove the fine on workers.”
Wales is also re-introducing restrictions from 6am on Boxing Day. From 26 December, groups of no more than six people will be allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants.
The measures are a revised version of the country’s alert level 2 and are in response to increasing levels of Omicron infections. The Welsh government said the restrictions are designed to help keep businesses open and trading and protect customers and staff.
Ministers also said that £120m will be available for nightclubs, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses affected by the move to alert level 2 – double the £60m package announced last week. The economy minister will announce further details of financial support for businesses tomorrow.
Mark Drakeford, Wales’ first minister, said: “We are facing a very serious situation in Wales. A wave of infections caused by the new, fast-moving and very-infectious Omicron variant is headed our way.
“This new form of coronavirus 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.
“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.”
From Boxing Day, the alert level 2 measures in Wales will mean:
- A general requirement of 2m social distancing in all premises open to the public and workplaces, where reasonable.
- The rule of six will apply to gatherings in regulated premises, such as hospitality, cinemas and theatres.
- All licensed premises will need to take additional measures to protect customers and staff, including table service and collecting contact details.
- Face coverings will be required in hospitality settings at all times apart from when seated.
- Large events will not be allowed indoors or outdoors. The maximum number of people who can gather at an indoor event will be 30, and 50 outdoors.
- There will be an exception for team sports, up to 50 spectators will be able to gather, in addition to those taking part. There is also an exception for events involving children.
However, the Welsh government stopped short of making new rules about mixing in people’s private homes, including gardens, in holiday accommodation or meeting outdoors. Instead, guidance will be issued to help people stay safe.