Sporting events in Wales will once again be played behind closed doors from Boxing Day to help control the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Welsh Government ministers spent most of Monday in meetings to discuss introducing further restrictions after First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed last Friday that nightclubs will close, and two-metre social distancing rules will return after Boxing Day.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething announced the new measures amid a surge in omicron cases in Wales. The number of confirmed cases of the new variant now stands at 435.

The decision comes as some football clubs have already announced Christmas matches have been postponed because of cases of Covid-19 in their squads.

Cardiff’s United Rugby Championship clash with Scarlets and Wrexham’s National League fixture against Solihull – both scheduled for December 26 – will be the first matches affected by the ruling. The first EFL fixture due to be affected is Swansea’s Championship clash with Luton, which is currently scheduled for December 29.

The Welsh Grand National at Chepstow will also have to be run behind closed doors despite advance ticket sales in excess of 6,000.

Cardiff City’s Championship clash against Coventry has already been postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak in the Bluebirds’ camp, as has the United Rugby Championship game between the Ospreys and the Dragons. League Two leaders Forest Green will also not be playing Newport County.

Mr Gething has also confirmed a £3m Spectator Sports Fund will be available to support clubs and sporting venues affected by the new measures.

The Economy Minister said: “Sporting events over the Christmas period are one of the big highlights of the year. Unfortunately, the new omicron variant is a significant development in the pandemic and could cause a large number of infections.

“We need to do everything we can to protect people’s health and control the spread of this awful virus.

“Throughout the pandemic we have followed scientific and public health advice to keep people safe. The advice is clear – we need to act now in response to the threat of omicron. We are giving people as much notice of these decisions as we can.

“Crowds will come back as soon as possible. We want everyone to be here to enjoy their favourite sports.”

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