As we approach December in Wales, we are no closer to knowing what Christmas will look like for people across the country as they hope to plan their festive periods with family and friends.
While it is certain that Christmas 2020 will be unlike any ever seen before, the powers that be in Cardiff are still working – in conjunction with the other three UK Governments – to come up with a plan to safely manage the holiday period.
First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed that the regulations which came into force following the end of the 17-day fire-break lockdown on November 9 will remain in place for at least another two weeks.
Speaking to the media on Friday, Mr Drakeford said that plans for Christmas are “still being worked on”, and that Wales is “working closely with the Scottish, Northern Irish and UK Governments to develop a common four-nation plan”.
The Welsh Government has met in the last few days, however, and decided that the current guidelines will see us into December and run until Monday, December 7 at the earliest.
The current restrictions are outlined below:
- There are no travel restrictions within Wales for residents
- Two households can join together to form a bubble
- Only people in these extended households can meet inside their homes
- You can meet indoors in other settings, such as pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, but in groups of a maximum four (excluding children), and social distancing should still be adhered to
- In relation to organised activity, up to 15 people can take part in an indoors activity and up to 30 in an outdoors activity, providing all social distancing, hand hygiene and other Covid-19 safety measures are followed
- Schools are to remain open until the end of term
- Business premises can remain open
- Places of worship can continue to hold services with social distancing protocols in place
- Council services continue
- People should avoid non-essential travel and work from home where possible
- Two metre social distancing and the need to wear masks in enclosed public spaces remains in place
Keep up to date with the latest coronavirus data where you live:
Speaking on Friday, Mr Drakeford said: “We need everyone – every single one of us – to play our part to make sure that we continue to build on the progress of the fire-break and keep those coronavirus cases falling.
“It’s simple, we know what we have to do. If we all do this together, we can have a path through to Christmas.
“We have all had to cancel or postpone plans as our lives have been put on hold by the pandemic.
“No one is enjoying the stop-start nature of this year and we are all looking forward to when our lives can move beyond coronavirus.
“The power to prevent people catching the virus lies in the hands of each one of us and the choices each one of us make every day.”
While rates of coronavirus remain high in many parts of Wales, Mr Drakeford said that the country has seen a recent fall in the R number, with the latest estimate between 0.9 and 1.2, and that the fire-break lockdown that was in force between October 23 and November 9 had been a success.
“We are yet to see this translate into a sustained reduction of pressure on the health service,” he said.
“The wave of cases the health service is dealing with is always going to be about two weeks behind what we see in the community.
“But we have seen the rate at which people are being admitted to hospital with coronavirus stabilise over this last week.”