Welsh bars to close for two weeks
Hospitality businesses in Wales will be forced to close from Friday as part of a two-week ‘firebreak’ lockdown to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
Bars across Wales will be forced to close from Friday
First minister Mark Drakeford said the new measures would come into force on Friday 23 October at 6pm and will remain in place until the end of the day on Monday 9 November. So far, there have been 35,628 reported cases of Covid-19 in Wales.
Under the new restrictions, people will be ordered to stay at home, except for very limited purposes, and will be asked to work from home where possible. People must not visit other households, indoors or outdoors, and all non-food retail businesses must close – including the bars and pubs.
David Chapman, UK Hospitality Cymru executive director for Wales, said the measures were “a severe blow to Welsh hospitality and tourism”.
He said: “Another lockdown, even a short one such as this, is a severe blow to Welsh hospitality and tourism. If it has to happen, though, it is very encouraging to see the First Minister single out hospitality for support.”
The Welsh government has pledged almost £300 million (US$388m) in support for businesses ordered to close under the new measures.
Furthermore, businesses covered by the small business rates relief will receive a £1,000 (US$1,300) payment. Small and medium-sized retail, leisure, and hospitality businesses forced to close will also receive a one-off payment of up to £5,000 (US$6,500). The government will also offer additional discretionary grants and support for smaller businesses.
The support follows the announcement of an £80m (US$103m) fund last week to help businesses develop in the longer term. The fund has now been increased to £100m (US$129m), which includes £20m (US$26m) ring-fenced for tourism and hospitality.
Chapman added: “The package announced today is welcome, positive and shows that the Welsh Government is listening to us.
“Once the firebreak is complete, we then need to see some really innovative thinking around how Welsh Government continues to support the sector and that must include a second look at current restrictions around opening hours. Hospitality is part of the solution, not the problem, to keeping Covid-19 at bay.
“We can lead on safe socialising, helping make sure people across Wales can meet friends and family safely in a licensed, protected environment.”
Yesterday (19 October), hundreds of hospitality workers gathered in Parliament Square, London, to protest the UK government’s restrictions on the sector.