Businesses across Wales have been affected by an effective national lockdown since 20 December 2021, following a rise in COVID-19 infections.
The Welsh Government continues to review the situation, but at present, the nation is under alert level four until at least the second week of March
Currently, non-essential travel is banned and people are expected to stay home as much as possible.
However, under the latest changes to the level four restrictions, people are allowed to reform their support bubble and four people from a maximum of two households are now allowed to meet up locally to exercise.
As part of the Welsh Government’s plans primary school children aged eight and over may be able to return to school from 15 March and some non-essential shops and hairdressers could also reopen in March, but pubs, restaurants, cafes and gyms are unlikely to be allowed to resume trading soon.
These small steps are part of an ongoing review by the Government to see how the country can re-open schools, businesses and high streets.
However, despite the loosening of some rules, the following restrictions will now apply until at least mid-March:
- Alcohol sales in stores are banned after 10 pm
- All indoor and outdoor events are cancelled and visitor attractions are shut
- Non-essential retail, close contact services, such as hairdressers, gyms and hospitality, will remain closed
- Only essential travel is allowed
- People are allowed to dissolve the bubble they are in and reform it, provided there is a 10-day gap between the two separate bubbles
- People must work from home “wherever possible”
- Schools are to remain closed and use online learning
- Stay-at-home restrictions will be in place from midnight
- Supermarkets cannot sell anything deemed ‘non-essential’
- Throughout alert level four, a single person household will be able to join with one other household.
- Two people from different households can now meet to exercise, as long as they stay local
- Wedding ceremonies and funerals can still take place but with limited numbers (receptions or wakes are not permitted)
- When outdoors, people must wear a face mask in ‘public places’.
Decisions on the rules in Wales are a devolved matter, and so while England has been given a roadmap to the loosening of national restrictions, as yet no such plan has been announced in Wales.
Instead, the Welsh Government will continue to review the situation every three weeks before it decides to lower the alert level and bring Wales out of lockdown.
Before the most recent announcement, First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed in January that businesses employing five or more people will have to carry out a specific COVID-19 risk assessment, ensuring that there is adequate ventilation, people are socially distanced and using PPE. They must also reconsider whether staff can work from home. This is likely to lead to additional costs for some businesses.
However, alongside these restrictions the Government has offered a “Restrictions Business Fund” worth £160 million, which will enable around 60,000 hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses that pay non-domestic rates to access grants of up to £5,000. A total of £180 million will also be available via the existing Economic Resilience Fund.
For further details of the support currently available to business in Wales, please click here.
If you need support with any of the COVID-19 financial support measures or require assistance with business recovery plans, please contact us.