What First Minister Mark Drakeford said about Christmas this year

By Cathy Owen & Ruth Mosalski

It is just over two months away, but after the restrictions that were in place for families across Wales last Christmas, many want to know how it will look this year.

And the good is, that while Wales First Minister admits the winter period is going to be "challenging", he is hopeful families will experience a better festive period in 2021.

Mark Drakeford was speaking as he announced the results of Wales' three-weekly lockdown review of coronavirus restrictions and prepared to publish a report which will lay out what would happen in a worst case scenario, such as a new Covid variant, vaccine immunity or extra NHS pressure. You can see live updates from his press conference here.

Read more: All the latest you need to know about coronavirus in Wales here.

When asked how Christmas could look this year, he said: "I think winter will be challenging, but I think the model is telling us that provided we do all the things we can do then Christmas this year will be easier than the Christmas we had last year."

He did have a warning though, saying: "The things we can do are really important. So please, if you haven't been vaccinated against coronavirus come forward and be vaccinated. That's the thing that helps us the most.

"When you're invited for a flu vaccine as many people will be done by their GPS, come and have the flu vaccine, because we are very anxious, that there will be a higher circulation of flu this year and last year, and then those simple other things the mask, wearing the hand washing, but being careful about being at a distance with other people not meeting more people than you need to meeting outdoors where you can.

"All of those things that we can do in our own lives, adapt to a significant defence against coronavirus this winter. And if we do all of those things, then we can see a path into the autumn and through the winter, in which we won't need to go back to the sort of restrictions we faced at Christmas last year."

Last year, on December 19, just days before Christmas he had had to announce that Level 4 lockdown restrictions would start immediately as case numbers soared and before the vaccine was available.

All non-essential shops, gyms and hospitality has to close and the only household bubbles allowed will be for single person households joining with one other household. The Christmas bubble rules which allowed only two households to join applied on Christmas Day alone.

This year he says Christmas should look "like it does today" where Wales remains at the lowest level of restrictions.

The latest lockdown review is being announce today (Friday, October 8), and no changes are being brought in. Read the full interview with the First Minister here.

The First Minister is laying out what could change in a worst-case scenario for Wales. Referred to as "Covid Urgent" it will explain what could happen if there were sudden changes, such as a new variant or if vaccine immunity levels fall which could both "risk overwhelming the NHS".

If those happened, it would mean a return to the alert level system and restrictions in Wales, but the First Minister will say they would only be used "proportionately" and as a "last resort".

But he did warn we have to be careful in the run up to Christmas: "We still have the sort of things we're asking people to do today we're still asking people to wear masks on public transport and uncoated public places we're still saying that people work from home, where you can we're going to have a Covid pass from Monday so all of those things are likely still to be with us a Christmas

"We've all got to do the things that we can do, if people think it's all over. I don't need to bother. That doesn't mean me, then I'm afraid, you know, we'll all find ourselves back in more difficulties."

To get our free briefing on the biggest issues affecting nation emailed to your inbox, sign up for Wales Matters here

What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.