This week the Welsh government released its new coronavirus control measures which will place Wales in a tiered system as we have seen in England and Scotland.
After Christmas Day all hospitality in Wales will have to close (with the exception of takeout) as Wales enters a full level 4 lockdown from December 28.
Unlike the firewall where there were only two weeks left, the ad restrictions should be much longer.
Reading the new regulations, it appears that some pubs are not allowed to sell alcohol until March or even later. It comes after they were banned from selling alcohol and shutting down at 6 p.m. for most of December.
By the rules, pubs and restaurants will no longer be allowed to sell alcohol until an area reaches level 2 – and even then they must serve it with a heavy meal.
Given the planned three-week review cycle by the Welsh government, the fact that it takes two weeks for the impact of the restrictions to show up in the statistics and extremely high rates in areas like Merthyr, it is quite possible that most parts of Wales will not have reduced Covid rates significantly enough – and sustainably enough, to have reached Level 2 by March. You can read the full guide here.
What will determine the reopening of pubs?
Of course, it all depends on the virus, but we can, using the tips, deselect any of the probable scenarios.
Under the new level four guidelines, all bars and restaurants must close except for take out.
Levels are decided based on a range of nuanced factors, but essentially an area is at level four when:
- Confirmed case rate: over 300 cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day moving average
- Seven-day positivity test above 10%
- A reliable estimate of the rate R at one or more
These factors apply to all parts of Wales except parts of North Wales.
To move to level three, the case rate must fall between 150 cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day moving average and 300.
In addition, the positivity of the test over seven days should be between 5 and 10%. This means that the infection rate will need to be less than half of what it is now.
This could happen as soon as possible during the first review three weeks after the lockdown goes into effect. It would be January 18th. If ministers are not confident enough at this point to lift the Level 4 lockdown, it could continue until the second three-week review in February. 8.
But even when we go down to level three, the outlook for ads is still very poor.
At level three, there is always a closing time for the hotel and a ban on alcohol in pubs and restaurants.
So to start selling alcohol, hospitality will have to go down to level two.
To do this, we will need to be between 50 and 150 cases per 100,000 people, test the positivity rate between 3 to 5% and no rapid growth in cases over 60 years old.
For the context, it is necessary to go back to October 1 to obtain an overall rate of 75 cases per 100,000 in all of Wales.
The next three-week lockdown review date after February 8 would be March 1. So if things are going well, March 1st seems like a very important date for the hospitality industry.
But even at level two, pubs are severely restricted.
At level two, pubs and restaurants can again serve alcohol, but only where it is part of a large meal. In addition, the premises must close at 10:20 p.m.
So, even after all this time, pubs that don’t sell food won’t be able to realistically open because they can only sell soft drinks.
It is only when we reach level one, which is less than 50 cases per 100,000 (not seen since early September), that pubs can reopen and sell alcohol without a meal. Even so, a 10:20 p.m. curfew for pubs and restaurants remains in place.
Ben Francis is the political chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Wales said the damp pubs were seriously worried about the long-term prospects.
He said: “The Welsh Government urgently needs to give some hope to hotel business owners in Wales who will be increasingly worried about what the future holds for their business.
‘The publication of the coronavirus control plan gives companies some certainty about the types of restrictions they might face in the coming weeks, and how the Welsh government will make decisions about changing the alert level, what the FSB has repeatedly called for and will do. help businesses understand what the landscape could look like in the coming months.
“We’re also happy to hear that some of the money starts coming in before Christmas. The FSB has repeatedly insisted that with the Christmas business wiped out for many, businesses would need government support to survive. This will make Christmas a little less anxious for businesses.
“However, this does not change the difficult long-term outlook facing hotel companies. The government has yet to say at all how long the level four restrictions will last and so there is uncertainty as to whether the allocated funds will be sufficient to cover businesses sufficiently if the restrictions last longer than the end of January. ‘Wet’ pubs (those that do not serve food) will be particularly concerned that the Welsh government tier system suggests that they will not be able to trade until the areas reach level one. that these companies in particular could face a deeply uncertain period ahead. ”
Hopefully a more regional approach to measures will help pubs in some places to reopen.
However, the Welsh government has indicated that while local restrictions are not being ruled out, they won’t happen anytime soon as national measures have proven to be more effective.
Mr Francis added: ‘There are still no details on how a regional approach could be taken across Wales which would recognize the different prevalence rates of the virus across Wales and the potential to allow a larger part of the economy in these areas to open up.
“The Welsh government needs to move forward with a plan to help these businesses survive, and how it will help them do so and give them more detail and certainty. These businesses are local employers and are often the backbone of their communities – we need to make sure they are able to come out of this winter as viable businesses.