A lockout will be imposed by the Welsh Government from midnight, affecting the whole country.
The announcement was made by First Minister Mark Drakeford this afternoon after a new Covid-19 strain was discovered.
After a UK-wide lockdown earlier this year and then a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown last month, it will be the third national lockdown for Wales.
And while Welsh residents were looking forward to having several days of household mixing to celebrate Christmas celebrations, these rules have now been updated as well.
Originally, from 23 to 28 December, families in Wales would have been able to mix, but now the relaxation of restrictions has been limited to Christmas Day only.
“On Saturday, Mr. Drakeford announced the lockdown and change to the festive rules: “While we all want to prevent more damage to companies and Christmas plans, our primary responsibility is to protect lives here in Wales.
We know that the year 2021 is going to be different and stronger.
“Our economy will improve. Christmas may come again.”
A nation-wide lockdown that was expected to come into effect on December 28 was already planned by Wales.
The step, however, has now been pulled forward by more than a week for the lockdown to start tonight at midnight.
As part of the latest lockdown, all but important shops will be forced to close, as will the hospitality industry.
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a new strain of coronavirus that scientists have found is more contagious than previous strains, Mr. Drakeford’s announcement came.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, however, has confirmed that there is no proof that the latest strain is any more lethal or immune to the vaccine that began to be rolled out this month in the UK.
He said on Saturday: “As announced on Monday, through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance, the UK has identified a new variant of Covid-19.”
The New and Evolving Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now considers that the new strain will spread faster as a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modeling results, and increasingly growing incidence rates in the South East.
In order to enhance our understanding, we have alerted the World Health Organization and are continuing to evaluate the data available.
There is no existing evidence to indicate that the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that vaccines and therapies are affected, even though urgent work is underway to confirm this.
“Given this latest development, it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.”
The latest pressure has led the UK government to launch a new ‘Tier 4’ in England that will impose travel bans, close down stores, and shut down leisure facilities.