In less than a day the shoppers disappeared and the shutters came down on some of Wales’ busiest shopping streets

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The streets of Cardiff have fallen silent once more as infection rates soar and Wales enters the highest level of alert.

On Saturday, December 19 First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that alert level 4 restrictions would come into force across Wales when the clock hit midnight.

The move came in response to a new strain of coronavirus, believed to be 70% more infectious than the original, spreading across the UK.

People were asked to stay at home and implored not to rush out for last minute Christmas shopping before non-essential shops shuttered at the close of trading on Saturday.

Families were told two households could meet only on Christmas Day, instead of the planned five-day relaxation of the rules, throwing many people’s plans into chaos and depriving them of the contact with family that many craved in a bid to contain the virus.

Speaking ahead of the lockdown on Saturday, Mr Drakeford said: “Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister this afternoon setting out the pattern of transmission in London and the South East of England, which has been linked to this new variant of coronavirus.

“This is remarkably consistent with the rapid acceleration of transmission in Wales and the high rates of cases we have seen in recent weeks.

“We have therefore reached the difficult decision to bring forward the alert level four restrictions for Wales, in line with the action being taken in London and the South East of England.

“This will mean non-essential retail, close contact services, gyms and leisure centres and hospitality will close at the end of trading today.

You can read what you can and can’t do over Christmas here and everything else you need to know about alert level 4 here.

The announcement came during what would have been the must lucrative shopping week for retailers and the scene in Cardiff on Saturday couldn’t have been more different to the almost empty streets on Sunday.

The restrictions will come as a blow to retailers after the toughest year for the industry in decades.

Stores are still able to offer a click and collect service and hospitality businesses can offer takeaway services.

Even the weather had changed, with heavy downpours on Sunday reflecting the sombre mood of an empty city centre.

Overnight, the streets were deserted as people were asked to stayed at home unless they had a “reasonable excuse” to be out.

People flock to the centre to enjoy a glass of eggnog or mulled wine or any number of the delicious Christmas treats that are on offer.

But, this year, the final few days before Christmas will see the chalets cordoned off and many of the businesses that usually rely on the bumper trading period unable to sell their goods.

With the country locked down for Christmas this is a yuletide season like no other and Cardiff has never looked so empty at this time of year.

Many will be hoping that the closing words of the First Minister’s statement turn out to be true.


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