Wales’s economy minister has said he expects Christmas celebrations this year to be “substantially better” than last year, despite concerns around rising case rates and extensions to the use of covid passes.

The current coronavirus case rate in Wales is around 500 per 100,000.

Vaughan Gething was optimistic that Christmas would not be impacted: “I really don't think we're going to have to make the same sort of decisions we did last year unless there really is a vaccine-busting variant that would cause real concern for us.

However, he did not rule out extending the use of covid passes for hospitality and that the “cabinet had discussed” the possibility. He also said if cases continue to rise then further steps will have to be taken to avoid the NHS coming under intense winter pressure.

The former health minister couldn’t guarantee that supply chain issues wouldn’t be a problem for Christmas.

South Wales Argus: Economy minister, Vaughan Gething, says the cabinet is considering extending covid passes.Economy minister, Vaughan Gething, says the cabinet is considering extending covid passes.

He said: “The challenge of this Christmas is, for example, turkey producers saying there'll be enough turkey for everyone to have a turkey but the choice will be limited. So we are seeing some constraints. I also heard that some suppliers are worried about their supply chains for a range of goods coming in.

"I couldn't give you a guarantee here, it'd be foolish for me to try to do so – about the exact nature of all of those supply chains and all of the challenges that might arise in the next week or two."

Mr Gething was speaking at a press conference earlier today in which he unveiled £45 million of government funding to help support smaller businesses “bounce back” from the effects of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

The money is expected to be available for businesses from local authorities within the next few weeks.

He added that “The funding will offer businesses who need to re-invest - particularly following the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, our departure from the EU, and with a view to climate and Covid proofing - the opportunity to do so, in order to relaunch, develop and grow.

"We’re doing all we can to build a Wales with a prosperous, fair, green economy, where nobody is held back or left behind.”