The two household Christmas rule is to be made law in Wales, while it is only a guideline elsewhere in the UK.
Earlier today the four UK nations had agreed to allow three households to meet, but suggested that only two should do so. The relaxation in the rules have been planned for 23-27 December.
However, it has now been confirmed that in Wales the two household rule will be set down in law, not just suggested as a guideline.
The distinction seemed to confuse even members of the ruling Labour Welsh Government, with one Senedd Member answering “yes” to the question of whether it was a guideline and not law.
Earlier it was also confirmed that 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.
The First Minister today confirmed the current conditions mean Wales would move to a fourth tier of restrictions after 28 December, after the five-day Christmas period.
The new restrictions will apply to all of Wales.
The First Minister urged everyone who can to work from home, saying it is one of the most important contributions we can all make to controlling the spread of coronavirus and saving lives.
“We are seeing levels of coronavirus in some parts of the country that we haven’t experienced at any point before in this pandemic,” he said. “This pandemic is putting our NHS under intense and sustained strain.
“There are more than 2,100 people with coronavirus symptoms in our hospitals – equivalent to five general hospitals fully occupied by people with coronavirus.
“This has been such a long and difficult year. We need to take this action to save lives and control the spread of this awful virus.”
The First Minister added:
“A smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas.
“The fewer people we mix with in our homes, the less chance we have of catching or spreading the virus.
“None of us wants to be ill this Christmas. And we don’t want to give coronavirus to our close family or friends.”
The alert level four restrictions for household mixing, staying-at-home, holiday accommodation and travel will come into force after the five-day Christmas period on December 28.