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Covid: Can I meet friends as Wales' pubs prepare to shut early?

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  • Coronavirus pandemic
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image captionBars and pubs in Wales are banned from serving alcohol from 18:00 BST on Friday

This is usually party season but an office outing or drinks with friends could not be further from reality as Wales prepares for a Covid Christmas.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants will be banned from selling alcohol from Friday and ordered to close at 18:00 GMT as the Welsh Government attempts to curb the rise of coronavirus cases.

But cross-border travel restrictions to parts of England and Scotland will be eased, although travel is not advised.

So what are Wales' latest rules?

Can I meet family and friends

Yes but I hope you don't have plans for this Friday night as all pubs, restaurants and cafes will shut at 18:00.

Those that those that reopen on Saturday won't be serving alcoholic drinks and are ordered to close early every day for two weeks until guidance is reviewed on 17 December.

However, the Welsh Government said people should limit themselves to seeing the same "one or two friends" - and four people should be "an absolute maximum".

"The smaller the number of people who gather, the lower the risk," it said.

"And it is better to see the same one or two people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally."

Larger groups of people who all live in the same house are allowed to eat out together - but groups of more than four people who are in the same bubble are not allowed in pubs, cafes or restaurants.

The rule of four will also apply when meeting people from different households outdoors, away from your home, but meeting anyone from outside your household bubble in someone's garden is not allowed.

Can I form an extended household?

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Two families can form a bubble or an extended household - and they are the only people you're allowed to see inside your home.

"To help keep everyone as safe as possible at home, only people from your own household or your extended household can meet at home," said First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Can I attend group activities?

Indoor organised events are allowed over the winter because the Welsh Government says it would be more difficult to meet outside.

Up to 15 people can take part in activities indoors and up to 30 outdoors - providing social distancing, hand hygiene and other Covid safety measures are followed

Can I return to work?

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The requirement to work from home whenever possible still remains in Wales, according to the new rules.

And as work is considered "essential", people are permitted to travel to England's very high risk tiers, if they cannot work from home.

So can I travel between Wales and England?

Yes - but there are restrictions if you're heading to the worst affected areas.

As cross-border travel rules are relaxed on Friday from 18:00, you can go to places in tiers one and two - but not to areas under the strictest measures in tier three.

image copyrightGoogle
image captionBorder communities: Chester and Wrexham

It means travel to places like London, Liverpool, Chester, Cheltenham and Bath will be possible within the new rules.

However you cannot visit places such as Manchester, Birmingham or Bristol, unless for work, essential childcare or to see your extended household.

But the Welsh Government is urging people against cross-border travel in an attempt to curb rising coronavirus rates.

What about Scotland?

Travel into Scotland's top tiers - levels three and four - is not allowed, much like England's tier three areas, except for essential reasons or seeing people in your extended household.

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image captionThe government is advising people not to travel across borders if it is not essential

So places like Glasgow, Stirling and Livingston are among the eleven local authority areas with the highest Covid measures.

"We are advising people in Wales not to travel into those parts of England and Scotland where the infection rate is lower, to help prevent them taking coronavirus with them," Mr Drakeford has said.

"Coronavirus doesn't respect borders - we all have a part to play in keeping Wales and the UK safe.

"Please think carefully about where you are going and what you are doing. This virus thrives wherever we come together with others."

Can I go to Northern Ireland?

No.

A two-week circuit-breaker took effect on 27 November to help reduce transmission of the virus and Welsh legislations prevents travel.

Can my children go to school?

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All children can go to school unless they have been asked to stay at home and self-isolate due to a Covid case in their class, bubble or year group.

Can I go on holiday or visit my second home?

Yes - but only in Wales or to those areas of England and Scotland not in the highest level of restrictions. You can't go abroad.

There are a small number of flights from UK airports but for "essential purposes" only, such as work or education.

The Welsh Government has said international travel restrictions will continue and have warned they are likely to remain in place until at least January but "kept under constant review".

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionYou can still visit parts of Wales and other areas of the UK under lower levels of restrictions

What about driving home for Christmas?

For those wanting to drive home to see family and friends to celebrate over the festive period, new rules will be introduced.

From 23 to 27 December, people from across the UK will be able to meet.

But with numbers limited to three households, some larger families, and those who have relatives who have separated, may face difficult choices when arranging the dinner table.

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