Wales’ hospitality sector banned from selling alcohol and forced to close at 6pm

Pubs and restaurants in Wales have been banned from serving alcohol from today and will be forced to close at 6pm.

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the new rules – some of the harshest in the UK – to tackle a rise in coronavirus cases.

Business groups said the move would devastate Wales’ hospitality industry, with closures “guaranteed”. Many businesses have chosen not to open at all as to do so would likely see owners lose money.

Indoor entertainment and visitor attractions, including cinemas, museums and galleries, will also have to shut.

Restaurants, pubs, bars, and cafes can offer a takeaway service after 6pm, and if they have an off licence they can sell takeaway booze up until 10pm.

But it is safe to say the measures have been met with scorn and derision, with political parties and hospitality groups calling them “unfair”.

The Conservative leader in the Senedd, Paul Davies, said the national approach from the Welsh Government was unfair on areas with low Covid rates.

While Plaid Cymru said hospitality was “paying the price” for a lack of stricter measures after the firebreak lockdown ended on 9 November.

Mr Drakeford said without changes there could be between 1,000 and 1,700 preventable deaths over the winter months.

He said those hit by the restrictions would be offered a share of a £340 million support package, which he said was “the most generous package of financial assistance anywhere in the UK”.

Mr Drakeford told a press conference: “I know these new restrictions will be difficult, coming as they do at the one of the busiest times of the year for the sector.

“Unfortunately, we continue to face a virus which is moving incredibly quickly across Wales and a virus that will exploit every opportunity when we spend time with one another.”

The case rate has risen from 187 per 100,000 people over seven days on Friday, to 210 cases per 100,000 people, the first minister explained.

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