Nightclubs in Wales are bracing for another blow, as the industry was told to shut down after Christmas, 11 weeks after NHS COVID Passes became mandatory.
It’s part of a number of new restrictions First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Friday to “prepare for a large wave of Omicron infections.”
From Dec. 27, nightclubs must close. Shops and other businesses will be required to put extra measures in place, including a two-metre social distancing rule, physical barriers, and one-way systems.
The legislation will also be changed to require working from home where possible.
Drakeford said financial support of up to £60 million ($80 million) will be available to businesses materially affected by these new restrictions.
The first minister also set out advice for the Christmas period and indicated that decisions on whether or not to bring back more restrictions will be made on Monday.
People are “strongly” advised to get vaccinated, meet outdoors rather than indoors, space out socialising, wear masks, exercise social distancing, and take a lateral flow test before going shopping or visiting people.
Drakeford asked people to “enjoy Christmas with your nearest and dearest,” and consider delaying meeting with “wider circles of friends” until after the expected Omicron wave is over.
According to Drakeford, the Delta CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus variant is expected to remain dominant in Wales until Christmas, but the number of Omicron cases has been “increasing rapidly every day in Wales and across the UK.”
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday that Omicron has replaced Delta as the dominant variant of the CCP virus. The Scottish government previously advised people to limit socialising to three households.
On Friday, 3,201 more confirmed Omicron cases were reported across the UK, bringing the total case number to 14,909.
The number of new CCP virus cases reported on Thursday was 88,376, breaking the record set on the previous day.
New modelling by the Imperial College London COVID-19 response team suggested that the risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant is 5.4 times greater than that of the Delta variant, and no evidence of Omicron having lower severity has been found, but the team said: “hospitalisation data remains very limited at this time.”
On Thursday, South African Health Ministry said Omicron deaths and hospitalizations remained relatively low despite the worldwide panic and new government mandates.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.