Wales bans all alcohol sales in hospitality under tough new Coronavirus restrictions

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Wales bans all alcohol sales in hospitality Coronavirus restrictions First Minister

Related tags Wales Coronavirus lockdown

Pubs, bars and restaurants in Wales will be banned from selling alcohol and be forced to close at 6pm every evening under tough new Coronavirus restrictions.

Less than one month after hospitality businesses across the country were given the green light to reopen following a 17-day 'fire-break' lockdown, First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the new restrictions will come into force from Friday (4 December).

However, he also announced that targeted financial support would be made available to help businesses weather the impact of the measures.

All hospitality venues in Wales will be banned from serving alcohol.

They will also have to close at 6pm every evening, although they will be able to sell takeaway food after that.

The measures will be reviewed on 17 December.

Speaking at the Welsh Government’s briefing, Drakeford said that there had been a 'stark rise' in the number of Coronavirus cases in Wales.

He added that as well as the new measures imposed on hospitality, all indoor entertainment venues - including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres, casinos, skating rinks and amusement arcades - must close.

The Welsh Government will provide £340m in grants to support businesses affected by the new Covid-19 restrictions, including £180m that will be targeted at hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses.

It will provide grants of up to £100,000 for SMEs and £150,000 for larger businesses.

"The grants will be linked to the number of people employed and their operating costs with up to 10,000 businesses being supported," said Drakeford.

Trade body UKHospitality Cymru says it welcomes the swift response by the Welsh Government to provide immediate substantial support for businesses that are being forced to endure the new restrictions.

“Let’s be clear: at this time of year, when businesses can trade up to 25% of annual turnover - and above - the new restrictions are a massive blow to hospitality in Wales as well as our loyal customers and workforce as we head towards Christmas and the New Year," says David Chapman, UKHospitality Cymru executive director.

“We feel isolated and feel we are unjustly bearing the brunt of Government actions when retail and other areas are allowed to trade relatively unhindered.

“These businesses have been devastated all year, struggled to stay afloat in the face of diminished consumer confidence and stifling measures and, even with the financial support,  this could be a hurdle too many.

“We can take some comfort from the swift response to our direct appeals for vital support by the financial support being offered by the Welsh Government, though. Such severe restrictions necessitated a similarly large package of support to offset the measures and ensure that businesses stay alive and jobs remain open. There are still losers in this package and some of our bigger hotels could still be in inadequately assisted.

“We pushed the Welsh Government very hard on this and they have listened. If they survive, these are businesses that can spearhead the recovery of the Welsh economy next year and beyond.

“We have been heard by Welsh Government on nightclubs along with wedding venues and event and conference centres. It’s a start for these and we will need much more to help keep more jobs open and make the job of recovery that bit easier.

“We are still waiting for the full information on the restrictions and package and there is still a long way to do before the sector is anywhere near to being out of the woods, but the quick and pragmatic approach to support being shown by the Welsh Government will give more businesses a better chance of making it through.”

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