Pubs and restaurants across Wales will be banned from selling alcohol and forced to close by 6pm under new coronavirus restrictions due to come into force from Friday evening.
Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister revealed on Monday that hospitality venues, including bars and cafés, would have to switch to takeaway services for the rest of the evening.
The blanket restrictions are less draconian than those imposed on Tier 3 areas of England, but are more restrictive than the rules for Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas, which account for more than half the population.
It comes just three weeks after Wales ended its 17-day 'firebreak' lockdown, with the Welsh Government arguing further restrictions were necessary amid a spike in cases among those aged under 25.
The new regulations that come into force on December 4 will also require cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues forced to shut their doors until they are reviewed on December 17.
To help businesses survive the latest measures, the Welsh Government has established a £160 million ‘restrictions business fund’, which will provide an estimated 60,000 hospitality, tourism and leisure firms with grants worth up to £50,000.
A further £180 million 'economic resilience' scheme will also provide grants of up £100,000 for small to medium-sized businesses, while larger firms will be able to apply for up to £150,00
Speaking at a press conference in Cardiff on Monday, Mr Drakeford said the country’s scientific experts had warned that without additional measures the number of people in Welsh hospitals could rise to 2,200 people by mid-January.
Modelling suggests another 1,600 people could also lose their lives over the winter period, he said.
"The measures we are taking are based on what the UK Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) tells us has worked best elsewhere,” he added.
"From 6pm on Friday, our national measures will be amended to introduce new restrictions for hospitality and indoor entertainment attractions.
"Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will have to close by 6pm and will not be allowed to serve alcohol. After 6pm they will only be able to provide takeaway services."