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Wales restricts Christmas bubble rules ahead of move to highest alert level

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A maximum of two households will be able to mix over the Christmas period, Wales’ first minister announced.

Last month, the devolved administrations and UK government confirmed social restrictions would be eased over the festive period (23-27 December), allowing up to three households to form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’.

However, Wales’ first minister, Mark Drakeford said it is seeing levels of coronavirus in some parts of the country that haven’t been experienced at any point before in the pandemic.

As such, the decision has been taken to only allow two households in Wales to come together to form an exclusive Christmas bubble during that period.

Further, from 28 December after the special Christmas measures, new restrictions will apply to all of Wales:

  • All non-essential retail, including close contact services and all leisure and fitness centres will close at the end of trading on Christmas Eve
  • All hospitality premises will close from 6pm on Christmas Day
  • Tighter restrictions on household mixing, staying-at-home, holiday accommodation and travel will apply from December 28, after the five-day Christmas period.

Drakeford urged everyone who can to work from home, saying it is “one of the most important contributions to controlling the spread of coronavirus and saving lives”.

He added: “We are seeing levels of coronavirus in some parts of the country that we haven’t experienced at any point before in this pandemic. This pandemic is putting our NHS under intense and sustained strain.

“There are more than 2,100 people with coronavirus symptoms in our hospitals – equivalent to five general hospitals fully occupied by people with coronavirus.

“This has been such a long and difficult year. We need to take this action to save lives and control the spread of this awful virus.

“A smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas.

“The fewer people we mix with in our homes, the less chance we have of catching or spreading the virus.

“None of us wants to be ill this Christmas. And we don’t want to give coronavirus to our close family or friends.”

Christmas rules across the UK

The four UK governments met today to confirm the common arrangements for the five-day Christmas period. Joint advice will be published later today and Prime Minister, Boris Johnson will give a briefing later this afternoon.

Johnson earlier today said the special arrangements easing restrictions over the Christmas period will go ahead as planned.

In Scotland, first minister Nicola Sturgeon gave a strong recommendation for families to stay in their own homes this Christmas, though the same three household bubble rules over the five days remain.

Northern Ireland is aligned with England.

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