United Kingdom

Welsh drinkers head for final night out before bars are banned from selling booze

Drinkers turned out in force in Wales last night for a final session before pubs are banned from selling alcohol tonight.

Youngsters headed out in Cardiff and Swansea before the strict new measures come into force.

The hospitality sector has been rocked by the move, which will see a 6pm curfew on pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes - including a blanket ban on selling booze.

But in a final blow-out last night friends hugged each other outside watering holes in Cardiff with face coverings tucked under their chins.

Meanwhile police were out in force in Swansea to enforce social distancing as women hit the bars in high heels and dresses despite the cold weather.

Three women walk down a street in Cardiff city centre in Wales as they head out for ones last session

Four men don their warm gear as they sink a pint outside a pub in Cardiff city centre on a cold night in Wales

Two women sit in a doorway and play on their phones during their night out in Cardiff last night

Two women smile for a picture, with one wearing a face covering, during a night out in Cardiff last night

Youngsters headed out in Cardiff (pictured) and Swansea before the strict new measures come into force

The hospitality sector has been rocked by the move, which will see a 6pm curfew on pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes - including a blanket ban on selling booze. Pictured: Cardiff

In a final blow-out last night friends hugged each other outside watering holes in Cardiff with face coverings tucked under their chins

First Minister Mark Drakeford outlined the raft of measures for the hospitality sector on Monday and plunged the country into a lockdown just weeks after the last one.

Under the new guidelines, pubs, bars and restaurants will only be allowed to remain open until 6pm from Friday, and operate as takeaways afterwards.

And they will not be allowed to serve alcoholic drinks under a scheme like that in place in Scotland for weeks.

It prompted bosses to issue a rallying cry and urge the Welsh government to provide 'proof' their customers are more likely to catch Covid-19 in their establishments.

Meanwhile police were out in force in Swansea to enforce social distancing as women hit the bars in high heels and dresses despite the cold weather. Pictured: Cardiff

Mark Drakeford outlined the raft of measures for the hospitality sector on Monday and plunged the country into a lockdown just weeks after the last one. Pictured: Cardiff

Under the new guidelines, pubs, bars and restaurants will only be allowed to remain open until 6pm from Friday, and operate as takeaways afterwards. Pictured: Cardiff

The move has prompted bosses to issue a rallying cry and urge the Welsh government to provide 'proof' their customers are more likely to catch Covid-19 in their establishments. Pictured: Cardiff

Mr Drakeford said: 'Unfortunately, the virus is moving incredibly quickly across Wales and is eroding the gains we made during the firebreak period.' Pictured: Cardiff

Mr Drakeford said: 'Unfortunately, the virus is moving incredibly quickly across Wales and is eroding the gains we made during the firebreak period.

'This virus – and this pandemic – continues to be full of unpleasant surprises.

'It thrives on our normal human behaviour and all those places and opportunities where we come together.'

He added: 'I recognise just how hard the hospitality and (leisure) sectors have worked to comply with the regulations.

'I know the new restrictions will be difficult, coming as they do at one of the busiest times of the year.'

But he warned: 'We continue to face a virus that is moving incredibly quickly across Wales, and it is a virus that will exploit every opportunity when we spend time with one another.'

People enjoy a meal out the night before curfews hit in Cardiff, Wales, on Thursday evening 

A group of women walk down the street in Cardiff, Wales, ahead of the new restrictions tonight

Mr Drakeford said: 'It thrives on our normal human behaviour and all those places and opportunities where we come together.' Pictured: Cardiff

People wearing face coverings walk past a police van out watching drinkers late at night in Cardiff

Three friends smile for a photograph during their night out in Cardiff on Thursday evening

A man looks through a restaurant's window as he waits for his dinner in Cardiff last night

Wales flags hang from lampposts as police cars drive through he street in Cardiff last night

What will the new rules on drinking in Wales be from tonight?

From Friday, alcohol sales will be banned inside licensed pubs, cafes and restaurants

Those with an off-licence will be able to sell alcoholic drinks to be taken away

Pubs will also have to close at 6pm every day but will be able to operate a takeaway service for punters for drinks and food after 6pm  

The Welsh Government said pubs with a license for off-sales can continue to sell alcohol up until 10pm as part of their takeaway offer 

The new guidelines will be reviewed December 17 

It comes after First Minister Mark Drakeford said infection rates were rising in the country and warned of 1,700 'preventable deaths' over the winter.

Wetherspoon pubs in Wales will shut their doors after boss Tim Martin said Mr Drakeford's alcohol ban would be 'ruinously expensive' for his business.

Mr Martin announced more than 50 pubs across Wales will shut at 6pm on Friday amid the new rules. 

The pub chain founder accused the First Minister of 'talking cobblers' about the coronavirus health risks and ruled out opening his pubs just to sell food.

Mr Martin said: 'I don't want to wind the Welsh up by criticising their First Minister, but he is talking cobblers.

'There is very good evidence that lockdowns, and this is a type of lockdown, simply don't work.

'There is lots of examples of that throughout the world. This scare tactic that so many people are going to die are nonsense in my opinion.'

Mr Martin went on to say it would not be viable for his business to remain open amid the restrictions.

He continued: 'We are closing. It will not be viable to open. We tried it in Scotland when they brought in similar rules to Wales for a few weeks, but it was ruinously expensive.

'You can open for food, which is quite a big percentage of our trade, but what happens is a lot of people go out for a glass of wine, or a pint with a meal, so you lose a lot of your food sales as well. Overall, it is not viable.'

It comes as health minister Vaughan Gething said routine coronavirus testing of frontline health and social care staff in Wales will begin from December 14.

Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin ruled out opening his pubs just to sell food and soft drinks and confirmed more than 50 pubs across Wales will shut at 6pm on Friday

First Minister Mark Drakeford outlined a raft of measures for the hospitality sector on Monday and banned the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants

Asymptomatic lateral flow tests, which give results within 30 minutes, will be made available to clinical and non-clinical NHS staff as well as care workers.

On Friday, Mr Gething said the regular asymptomatic testing regime would not eradicate the risks of picking up and transmitting the virus.

He said: 'It is vital everyone understands that testing alone cannot eradicate the risks associated with Covid-19 and testing needs to be carried out alongside other infection prevention control measures, such as the use of PPE, social distancing and hand hygiene.'

He added: 'We will begin rolling out the programme for these groups from December 14, starting with those working in services with high risks of transmission, and introducing in lower risk settings in January.

'We will also be introducing regular asymptomatic testing of staff working in hospice inpatient units and those delivering hospice at home services.'

Football news:

Mourinho on Klopp's expression on the sidelines: When I behaved like this, there was a reckoning. Some people are different
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Juve and 6 clubs from England are among the organizers of the Super League. There will be 20 teams in the tournament
Ronaldo and Georgina violated anti-bullying measures by going to a ski resort. Juve player faces a fine
Aubameyang may miss the match against Manchester United. His mother is sick
The PFL is a football UFC. KAMAZ offered Khabib a place in the team
The Premier League will lose the competition for juniors after Brexit. And permits for foreigners in vain feared - they are easy to obtain (although Kant and Solskjaer coach would not be able)
Solskjaer pro 1:2 with Sheffield: We should be criticized, because there is no result. The guys have been great for a few months