Mark Drakeford sets new Covid restrictions for Wales from December 27
Nightclubs will close and businesses will have to bring back social distancing, barriers and one-way systems to protect customers and staff
The Welsh government said it will also impose restrictions on businesses, including social distancing in offices, from 27 December.
First Minister Mark Drakeford called for people to have a smaller Christmas and avoid meeting “wider circles of friends”.
It comes as the UK recorded a record number of Covid cases for a second day.
Announcing a two-phased plan, the Welsh government said it was giving “strong guidance” for people to leave a day between social events and to meet outdoors over Christmas.
But from 27 December new legal restrictions will come into force.
They include a two metre rule in offices and extra measures to protect customers and staff, including one-way systems and physical barriers.
The decision to shut nightclubs means they will be closed for New Year’s Eve.
Mr Drakeford said Omicron “poses a new threat to our health and safety”.
“It is the most serious development in the pandemic to date,” he said.
He added a smaller Christmas “is a safer Christmas”.
“Please enjoy Christmas with your nearest and dearest – and think about meeting up with wider circles of friends when the threat posed by the omicron variant has passed over,” he said.
In a statement issued on Thursday night, Mr Drakeford said:
“This year a smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas. The fewer people we see, the less chance we have of catching or passing on the virus.”
He urged people to get vaccinated, take lateral flow tests before going shopping or visiting people, to meet outdoors wherever possible, spread out social events with at least a day between them and to social distance, wash hands and wear a mask.
However, from December 27, there will be tougher rules. Nightclubs will have to close from that point.
A 2m rule on social distancing in offices will come in and there will be extra measures to protect customers and staff, such as one-way systems and physical barriers will become a requirement.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Delta will continue to be the main cause of coronavirus infections in Wales up to Christmas. But we are seeing cases of omicron increasing rapidly every day in Wales – and across the UK.
“We need a plan to keep us safe this Christmas and we need stronger measures to protect us afterwards, as we prepare for a large wave of Omicron infections.
“Omicron poses a new threat to our health and safety. It is the most serious development in the pandemic to date.
“It is one we must take seriously. We will continue to put in place proportionate measures to protect people’s lives and livelihoods.
“This is a virus which thrives on human contact. Every contact we have is an opportunity for us to spread or catch the virus. Please enjoy Christmas with your nearest and dearest – and think about meeting up with wider circles of friends when the threat posed by the omicron variant has passed over.
“I also want to thank the many thousands of people who will be working this Christmas to keep us safe – especially all those who have cancelled their plans to work in the vaccination centres across Wales to increase our protection against this awful virus.”
It has already been announced that the start of the school term in Wales will be delayed when pupils return in January. Education Minister Jeremy Miles has said all pupils should return by January 10 and “where possible” pupils should be in school for lessons next term.
Today’s data from Public Health Wales showed there were also 2,889 new positive cases recorded in the latest update bringing the total number since the pandemic began to 546,573. There have been
Wales has recorded zero coronavirus deaths for the first time since August 24.
The latest seven-day infection rate across Wales, based on the cases for every 100,000 people (for the seven days up to December 11) now stands at 500.7 – a slight rise from the 499.8 reported on Wednesday.
The question we ask is would closing nightclubs in Wales see younger people travel to England to carry out their new years eve celebration?