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Non-essential retail to close in Wales

The First Minister of Wales has confirmed that the country will move to alert level four amid rising Covid-19 cases, with all non-essential retail ordered to close at the end of trading on Christmas Eve.

Close contact services and all leisure and fitness centres will also close on 24 December, while all hospitality premises will close from 6pm on Christmas Day.

Tighter restrictions on household mixing, holiday accommodation and travel will apply from 28 December, after a five-day Christmas period.

Only two households are advised to come together to form an exclusive Christmas bubble during that period.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has also urged everyone who can to work from home, saying it was “one of the most important contributions we can all make to controlling the spread of coronavirus and saving lives”.

He said: “We are seeing levels of coronavirus in some parts of the country that we haven’t experienced at any point before in this pandemic. 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 5 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.”

He 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.”

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