Health minister Vaughan Gething said the new rules were introduced “partly” due to the new variant of coronavirus, which has “seeded” in all parts of Wales. Mr Drakeford described the situation as “incredibly serious”.
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Saturday that the country will immediately enter its highest level of restrictions ahead of Christmas.
This means Welsh people found themselves in Level Four restrictions at the end of Saturday, instead of from 28 December as was originally planned.
What does the current lockdown in Wales entail and how will it impact Christmas?
What are the rules for businesses?
As of the end of trading on Saturday, all non-essential retail, close contact services, gyms and leisure centres, and the hospitality sector must close.
Pubs and restaurants will only be able to open for takeaways under Level Four restrictions, and delivery services can continue running.
Shops can still offer click and collect services in Level Four, but must put “reasonable measures” in place to ensure two-metre social distancing rules can be observed when people collect their items.
What are the rules for mixing?
From midnight, stay-at-home rules came into force, and people will not be allowed to mix with anyone they do not live with. Only single person households are allowed to form a support bubble with one other household.
People may only leave their homes if they have a “reasonable excuse”, which includes exercising, to meet people in a support bubble, to escape “risk of illness or injury”, emergencies, and to attend a place of worship, wedding, or funeral.
People can also leave their homes for “essential” reasons if there is “no practicable alternative”, according to the Welsh Government’s guidance.
Can a tradesperson come to my home to work?
Yes, under Level Four, work carried out in people’s homes can continue “as long as it is managed in a safe way” and both the workers and household members do not have symptoms of Covid-19.
However, the Welsh Government recommends that people consider deferring the work until Level Four is lifted if possible.
What are the rules around Christmas in Wales?
People living in Wales will only be allowed to mix indoors with up to two other households on Christmas Day.
The planned easing of restrictions between 23 to 27 December has been scrapped.
You can meet one other household and a single-person household on Christmas Day anywhere in Wales, but people are being advised not to as the number of infections continues to rise.
Mr Drakeford said: “While we all want to avoid further disruption to businesses and plans for Christmas, our overriding duty is to protect lives here in Wales.
“We know that 2021 will be different and a better year. Our economy will recover. Christmas will come again. But lives which are lost, are lost forever.
“This new strain of the virus is another dreadful surprise in this long-running pandemic. We now have a pandemic within a pandemic, a crisis within a crisis.
“It is another challenge we must overcome. But one we will overcome together. We will continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and together, we will keep Wales safe.”