Hospitality businesses in Wales will be forced to close for two weeks as part of a “fire-break” lockdown, first minister Mark Drakeford has announced.

From Friday (23 October) until 9 November, pubs, restaurants and bars will have to cease all operations other than takeaway and delivery, and gatherings indoors and outdoors with people outside your household will be banned.

With the exemption of critical workers and those in jobs where working from home is not possible, people will be told to stay at home for the two-week period, and non-essential retail, gyms and leisure centres will also close.

The announcement follows rising case numbers in Wales - with figures now standing at 130 cases per 100,000 – and replaces the 17 local lockdowns that had been in place.

A £300m economic resilience fund has been set up in the country to help businesses affected by the lockdown, and small firms in retail, leisure and hospitality forced to close will be eligible for a one-off grant of up to £5,000.

“The fire-break is the shortest we can make it, but that means it will have to be sharp and deep to have the maximum impact on the virus,” said Drakeford in a press conference earlier today.

“We all want to see an end to this pandemic and our lives returned to us. Unfortunately, we do not yet have a vaccine, which will allow us to do that. So this is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much-longer, and damaging, national lockdown.”

Loungers chairman Alex Reilley, said: “In Wales between March 21st and November 9th hospitality will have been allowed to trade for just 75 days and will have been closed for 139. This will be totally unsustainable for so many Welsh hospitality businesses.”

UKHospitality Cymru executive director for Wales, David Chapman said: “Another lockdown, even a short one such as this, is a severe blow to Welsh hospitality and tourism. If it has to happen, though, it is very encouraging to see the First Minister single out hospitality for support.

“The package announced today is welcome, positive and shows that the Welsh Government is listening to us. It is vital now that we get some further advice on how the Economic Resilience Fund will be applied, how businesses over £51,000 rateable value will be additionally helped and how the support announced by the First Minister is applied without delay to keep businesses alive and avoid further job losses.

“Once the firebreak is complete, we then need to see some really innovative thinking around how Welsh Government continues to support the sector and that must include a second look at current restrictions around opening hours. Hospitality is part of the solution, not the problem, to keeping COVID-19 at bay.

“We can lead on safe socialising, helping make sure people across Wales can meet friends and family safely in a licensed, protected environment.”

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer & Pub Association, added: “This ‘fire break’ in Wales will destroy many pubs, brewers and their supply chains in the country unless the financial support package is available to all businesses hit by the forced closure of all pubs.

“There are more than 3,000 pubs in Wales already struggling with the 10pm curfew, rule of six, lower levels of consumer confidence and tourism in addition to the more recent travel ban. A forced full closure will leave many of them fighting for their very survival.

“The financial support package announced today leaves many businesses impacted by this forced closure with no additional help. We need the cash grants to fully cover lost revenue and high fixed costs for all pubs including those with a rateable value above £50k. These grants must also be made available to breweries and pub’s wider supply chain who may still be open, but now face a significant loss in revenue resulting from the closure of a major business channel. They must be delivered to businesses quickly to avoid permanent closure through lack of cash flow.

“37,000 jobs linked to the sector are at risk too without more support.

“The Welsh Government must now urgently do the right thing and extend the availability of the full financial support package to all pubs no matter what their rateable value is, as well as to brewers and pubs’ other suppliers. This is to ensure they survive this fire break lockdown and will be able to serve their communities and to support thousands of local jobs and livelihoods once more.

“We urge the Welsh Government to work closely with our sector on this.”