With just two weekends left before Christmas, it’s safe to say that people in Wales will be ‘celebrating’ the festive season a little differently this year.
While not currently in lockdown, Wales is living under a raft of restrictions which dictate where people can go, with whom, and under what circumstances. You can see a breakdown of these restrictions and some key questions answered here.
Pubs, for example, currently have to close at 6pm and are not permitted to serve any alcohol. The hope, for some, not least the proprietors of hospitality businesses, is that this will be relaxed at some point in the run-up to Christmas, with the results of a review into the current guidance expected to be announced by the Welsh Government on Thursday (December 17).
However, ministers have said that the current death rate in Wales is above the worst-case scenario, and there are real concerns that this could increase and that an even bigger burden could be placed on the NHS if the current situation does not improve markedly in the coming days and weeks.
On Friday, Public Health Wales confirmed that 29 more people had died with Covid-19 and that there had been 2,234 more positive tests in the previous 24 hours. The latest infection rate across the whole country (based on the seven days up to December 8) is 403.8 per 100,000 population.
Currently, there are plans to relax some of the current restrictions for a five-day period over Christmas. This decision has been made as part of a four-nation approach with England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The rules agreed area:
- Travel restrictions across the four administrations and between tiers will be lifted to provide a window for households to come together between December 23 and December 27.
- Up to three households can form an exclusive ‘bubble’ to meet at home during this period. When a bubble is formed it is fixed, and must not be changed or extended further at any point.
- Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place, but existing, more restrictive rules on hospitality and meeting in other venues will be maintained throughout this period.
However, nothing can be set in stone with the ever-changing Covid-19 situation, and Health Minister Vaughan Gething admitted this week: “If I were to tell you what Christmas looks like today then I’d be making it up, I’d be giving people false hope.”
Whatever Christmas will look like in Wales, it seems very likely that another national lockdown will be introduced shortly after the big day, possibly between Christmas itself and the new year.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said on Friday that the country could be placed into ‘Alert Level Four’ of a new tier system “if the strengthened measures of last week and the extra actions of this week, together with the efforts of each and every one of us, do not succeed in turning the tide of the virus”.
This would see restrictions imposed that are the equivalent of a full lockdown.
We have produced a survey to try to gauge the public’s view on the current coronavirus situation – about what is already in place, what will and could be in place over Christmas, and what the future will hold into January and beyond.
We would love to know how you feel about these issues. Please tell us by filling in the survey below: