All non-essential retailers in Wales will be forced to close their stores after trading finishes on Christmas Eve, with the country going into a full ‘tier four’ lockdown three days later.

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford also said all “close-contact” services such as hairdressers will have to close before Christmas Day. Pubs and restaurants must close from 6pm on December 25. 

Going against the Westminster government’s five-day relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions allowing up to three households to meet indoors between December 23 and 27, Drakeford also said only two separate households should meet over the festive period.

Drakeford did not give a timeframe for when the restrictions might be lifted, only saying the move would be evaluated every three weeks, starting in January. 

The tighter restrictions in Wales will come as a fresh blow for many retailers that now face having to close shops over the traditionally busy Boxing Day Sales period. 

Earlier today, Boris Johnson insisted the four nations of the UK had “unanimously” agreed to the increasingly controversial decision to relax social distancing rules over Christmas. 

Drakeford said the current coronavirus situation in Wales was “extremely serious” with over 2,100 patients currently receiving treatment for Covid-19 in NHS hospitals. 

“Coronavirus is rising in every part of our country and we have an obligation to take the action which will protect all parts of our country,” he said.

“If some parts of Wales demonstrate in a reliable and sustainable way that they are in a different part of the spectrum to other parts of Wales, well that can be recognised but we are not in that position today.”