Pub-goers in Wales will be given an extra 20 minutes to finish their drinks after last orders when the country’s new 10pm cut-off for alcohol sales comes into force.
From 6pm on Thursday, changes to coronavirus regulations mean Welsh hospitality businesses including pubs, cafes, restaurants, sports clubs and casinos must not supply alcohol between 10pm and 6am the following day.
Licensed premises will only be able to provide table service for customers when consuming food or drink, and following a 20-minute period to allow customers to finish their drinks at 10pm, must close by 10.20pm.
The new rules differ from those coming into force in England, where from Thursday all pubs, bars and restaurants must shut by 10pm – meaning last orders will come sooner than for those drinking in Wales.
The Welsh Government is allowing cinemas which sell alcohol to close later than 10.20pm for the purpose of concluding the showing of a film.
But the 10pm cut-off will also apply to off-licenses, including supermarkets, and deliveries of alcohol such as through a home delivery app.
On Wednesday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said licensed premises would not be required to close immediately at 10pm as in England following representations from those in the industry.
He told the Senedd: “We could have had an approach in Wales where, at 10pm, all those people were required to leave and stand on the pavement.
“I think that would have caused real damage to the business model that people have worked so hard to put in place.
“And every time we make these decisions, we are balancing the needs of people in business and in employment with the need to protect public health.
“I think the sector is very used to not allowing people to act irresponsibly in the few minutes leading up to a 10pm closure.
“Our system will allow people to drink up, to eat up, to bring their evening to an orderly close and then make their way home.”
On Thursday, Public Health Wales said there have been a further 348 cases of Covid-19 in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 21,896.
One further death was also reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic increasing to 1,606.