THE new lockdown restrictions in Wales will give people "the best chance" of seeing each other over Christmas, according to health minister Vaughan Gething.

He said he was reluctant to give people "false hope" for Christmas, given the time of "significant uncertainty" caused by the ever-changing coronavirus situation.

The current 'fire break' or 'circuit break' restrictions came into effect across Wales at 6pm yesterday (Friday), prompting the closure of all non-essential businesses and a 'stay at home' message for residents.

Mr Gething told BBC Breakfast today (Saturday) the effects of the restrictions would not be immediately noticeable when they ended on November 9, but the aim was to "have a national reset" to tackle the resurgence of Covid-19 across Wales.

"We want that more sustainable pattern to get us to the end of the year," the health minister told Naga Munchetty.

But pushed on how the 'circuit break' could affect Christmas in Wales, Mr Gething said he would not give any "outlandish promises".

"We're living with significant uncertainty in the here and now," he said. "The virus has shown it can take off very quickly if we don't have a recognised and understandable set of rules for us to take.

"We want to be able to get to Christmas with people able to see each other, but we have to look at where we are with the virus, how we're behaving in Wales, [and] whether we're able to effectively suppress it after the fire break.

"This gives us the best chance of doing that, but if I were to tell you what Christmas looks like today then I'd be making it up. I'd be giving people false hope, and that's absolutely what we should not be doing."

On the economic costs of the two-week lockdown, the health minister said taking action now was "about saving a much greater loss if we need to have longer, deeper, more sustained measures" to combat the spread of coronavirus.

"We also recognise the period leading up to the end of the year is hugely significant for the economy," he added. "In acting now, we're arresting harm that will be coming into our hospital system, arresting the number of deaths we could otherwise expect, giving us a better opportunity to have a national set [of rules] people can and will follow.

"That will actually be good news for the economy in a key period of the year."

Andrew RT Davies, shadow health minister for the Welsh Conservatives, told Sky News the 'circuit break' would be "devastating economically".

Singling out for criticism the Welsh Government’s ban on the sale of non-essential items in Wales during the lockdown, Mr Davies said: “I never thought I’d live in an era where aisles in supermarkets were blanked off because you couldn’t buy hairdryers or you couldn’t buy baby clothes, or toys for children, when the store is open."

Additional reporting by PA Media.