Welsh Christmas bubbles reduced by law to two households before full lockdown

16 December 2020, 12:15 | Updated: 16 December 2020, 20:49

Mark Drakeford broke rank to announce the new measures
Mark Drakeford broke rank to announce the new measures. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Christmas bubbles in Wales will be reduced by law to two households over the relaxation period, despite Boris Johnson insisting there was a "unanimous" plan between the four nations.

Mr Johnson claimed during PMQs in the House of Commons that the four devolved nations had reached a "unanimous agreement" to keep the current restrictions in place, which would allow up to three households to form a bubble over the festive season.

But Mr Drakeford simultaneously announced his latest guidance - which restricts households meeting to two between 23-27 December and brings in a strict level four lockdown from 28 December to counteract the expected spread of the virus.

Scotland quickly followed suit in breaking rank with Johnson, with the government asking people from up to three households to only meet Christmas bubbles for one day and not stay overnight.

Level four is the highest level of restrictions in Wales, and resembles a full lockdown similar to the spring.

The two-household rule in Wales over the festive period will switch from guidance to law, the Welsh Government told LBC.

On Wednesday evening, the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments issued a rare joint statement stressing this "cannot be a normal Christmas" due to the pandemic.

Explained: Wales Christmas Covid rules - What is a Christmas bubble and what are level 4 restrictions?

Read more: Wear masks indoors at Christmas to protect family, WHO says

Boris Johnson says easing of restrictions at Christmas will go ahead

As for Christmas in England, Housing minister Robert Jenrick told LBC Covid rules are "going to remain the same", but urged people to use "good judgement".

Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Government press briefing on Wednesday: "Many of you will have seen the warnings from senior clinicians about the huge impact coronavirus is having on the whole of our health service.

"The situation we are facing is extremely serious. We must move to alert level four and tighten the restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

"This new set of higher-level restrictions will apply to the whole of Wales.

"This means all non-essential retail, including close contact services and all leisure and fitness centres will close at the end of trading on Christmas Eve.

"All hospitality premises will close from 6pm on Christmas Day.

"And on December 28, at the end of the five day Christmas period, tighter restrictions for household mixing, staying-at-home, holiday accommodation and travel will apply."

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