The stark differences between day and night in Cardiff under new rules

Hospitality businesses have to close from 6pm and must comply with a ban on the sale of alcohol, but shops have been permitted to remain open

Crowds of Christmas shoppers descended on Wales’ major cities on the first weekend of December.

Swansea and Cardiff were teeming with people on Saturday and Sunday as the shopping season ramped up with less than three weeks until Christmas Day.

The scenes drew a stark contrast with Friday and Saturday evenings, which saw streets almost deserted as pubs and restaurants begin to deal with the impact of the Welsh Government’s ban on the sale of alcohol on premises.

From 6pm on Friday, licensed pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales have had to stop serving alcohol on their premises but those with an off-licence are permitted to sell alcoholic drinks for takeaway.

All pubs and restaurants are required to close at 6pm every day until further notice, and are allowed to operate as a takeaway service from 6pm.

The Welsh Government said the measures are designed to limit the spread of coronavirus as case numbers rose dramatically a month after the country’s two-week fire-break lockdown. First Minister Mark Drakeford said the new rules were being introduced in response to rising coronavirus cases and the promise of more social gatherings over Christmas.

In a briefing, Mr Drakeford said the evidence showing the virus was spreading in hospitality venues “was there”. The Welsh Government pointed to a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) report which said that taking action on pubs would produce a “moderate impact”.

The Welsh Government then referred to a different Sage report which concluded that measures being taken in Scotland’s level three and England’s tier three coronavirus restrictions were effective.

However, England’s tier three measures involve closing hospitality venues entirely, not banning the sale of alcohol and enforcing a partial closure.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “As cases of coronavirus accelerate in Wales and erode the gains made through the firebreak, we are strengthening the national measures in place in Wales, in line with the evidence of what works.

“We are adding a new set of targeted restrictions in the hospitality sector and in indoor entertainment and visitor attractions to the national measures to protect people’s health and save lives.

“Coronavirus thrives wherever people come into close contact with other people, especially for a prolonged period.

“We know that as the consumption of alcohol increases, social distancing and the perception of risk decreases. Wherever people mix, there’s a risk of coronavirus being passed on.

“If we are to be successful in keeping coronavirus under control, we need everyone to think about their own lives and reduce their contact with other people as much as possible.”

WalesOnline – Cardiff