Museums and galleries in Wales will be forced to close again this Friday – just over three weeks after being allowed to reopen – under new measures announced today by first minister Mark Drakeford aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus.
The restrictions are being introduced after a sharp rise in the number of Covid cases, with rates almost at the same level as they were days before the nation went into its two-week “fire-break” lockdown in October.
The new measures mean all indoor visitor attractions, including museums, galleries and heritage sites, must close from 6pm on 4 December. Outdoor attractions can remain open.
Drakeford said: “The measures we are taking are based on what the UK Sage group of experts tells us has worked best elsewhere.
“From 6pm on Friday, our national measures will be amended to introduce new restrictions for hospitality and indoor entertainment attractions.
“Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will have to close by 6pm and will not be allowed to serve alcohol. After 6pm they will only be able to provide takeaway services.
“From the same date, indoor entertainment venues, including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres, casinos, skating rinks and amusement arcades, must close.
“Indoor visitor attractions, such as museums, galleries and heritage sites will also have to close. Outdoor visitor attractions will remain open.”
The restrictions will be reviewed on 17 December and every three weeks from then onwards.
The Welsh Government has announced a £340m support package for the visitor, leisure and hospitality sectors, including:
- Grants of £3,000-£5,000 to cover fixed costs
- Grants of £100,000 for small- to medium-sized businesses
- Grants of £150,000 for larger businesses.
Drakeford said: “The hospitality and visitor sectors have worked hard to comply with the many regulations to make their businesses compliant and to protect customers from the threat of coronavirus.
“I am very grateful for everything the sector has done. I know these new restrictions will be difficult as they come 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 will exploit every opportunity where we come together to spend time with one other.”
Economy minister Ken Skates said: “These are incredibly difficult days for businesses and these decisions have not been taken lightly.
“We expect today’s £340m announcement to support tens of thousands of businesses and help protect many more jobs and livelihoods. It must also be remembered that UK Government support is also available to businesses.”