could close' if coronavirus cases rise
- Wales

could close’ if coronavirus cases rise

People drinking in a beer garden Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Pubs in Wales currently have to stop serving alcohol at 22:00

Pubs in Wales could close if coronavirus cases continue to rise, the health minister has warned.

All bars and restaurants across central Scotland have been closed following a surge in cases.

Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government was considering the measure, but said it could mean “significant unemployment” unless there was financial support from Westminster.

Currently, pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales stop serving alcohol at 22:00.

Mr Gething told BBC Radio Wales “we are not yet at a point” where widespread closures of bars was needed, but the situation was “rapidly evolving”.

Image copyright PA Media Image caption New rules in Scotland have been described as a “death sentence” for many pubs and restaurants

But, he said, the impact on people’s livelihoods would be significant if the UK government did not give financial support.

“We also have to consider, if we are going to close a sector of the economy without support… then they are going to lose their jobs, they are going to lose their businesses, and there is a direct health impact that comes from significant unemployment,” he said.

“We are not at the point where we need to have wholesale closures in the hospitality industry, but this is a rapidly evolving, highly infectious disease and the picture could be different on Sunday or Monday then the one we have today.

“I’m not itching to press a button, I’m looking to see what we can do to keep people alive, and to keep Wales safe.”

Keeping afloat

Owner of the Boar’s Head Hotel in Carmarthen, William Hunter, said he did not think his business would be viable if there were any further changes to the rules.

“It’s so worrying at the moment. We’re more than 50% down – any more restrictions will push us that bit further which won’t be viable,” he said.

“We’re at the stage where we’re offering 50% off all food, four days a week – which is keeping us afloat.”

At a daily coronavirus briefing, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “When I was talking to the chief constable of Gwent and others yesterday, the evidence on the ground in that part of Wales was that the numbers that are rising are not being caused by hospitality businesses.”

He said the approach was to “match the action to the source of the problem”.

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