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.
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.
Ahead of the announcement, David Chapman, UK Hospitality Cymru executive director for Wales, warned the measures would be “a huge hit for Welsh hospitality”.
He said: “Another lockdown, on top of the incoming travel ban, will be a huge hit for Welsh hospitality and tourism.
“We will need swift and comprehensive support to safeguard jobs and protect businesses that are integral to so many communities in Wales.”
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.