Welsh government pledges £340m support amid new rules

The Welsh government has announced that it will provide £340m to support businesses in the country, amid a fresh wave of new rules affecting the way hospitality businesses can operate from 4th December. The new measures, aimed to reduce the rising Covid-19 cases in the country, demand that restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs close to dine-in customers by 6pm and they will not be allowed to serve alcohol. After 6pm, these businesses can continue to provide a takeaway service.

"Unfortunately, the virus is moving incredibly quickly across Wales and is eroding the gains we made during the firebreak period," said Wales' first minister Mark Drayford. "We now need to take further steps together as a nation to protect people’s health and slow the spread of coronavirus.

"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.

"It underlines why we need to take further, targeted action now. We will focus these changes on places where we meet and where coronavirus thrives, drawing on recent evidence from the UK SAGE group of experts about what interventions have had the biggest impact on the virus."

An additional £340m has been available through the Economic Resilience Fund to support businesses affected by the new changes to the regulations, with a specific fund for hospitality operators. The new Welsh Government support is split into two funds: a £160m Restrictions Business Fund and a £180m sector-specific Economic Resilience Fund grant scheme.

UKHospitality Cymru commented: “We can take some comfort from the swift response to our direct appeals for vital support by the financial support being offered by the Welsh government. Such severe restrictions necessitated a similarly large package of support to offset the measures and ensure that businesses stay alive and jobs remain open. There are still losers in this package and some of our bigger hotels could still be in inadequately assisted.

“We pushed the Welsh government very hard on this and they have listened. If they survive, these are businesses that can spearhead the recovery of the Welsh economy next year and beyond.

“We are still waiting for the full information on the restrictions and package, and there is still a long way to do before the sector is anywhere near to being out of the woods, but the quick and pragmatic approach to support being shown by the Welsh government will give more businesses a better chance of making it through.”