Lockdown restrictions are to be imposed across Caerphilly County Borough from tomorrow, the Welsh Government has announced.
From 6pm on Tuesday, September 8, people will not be allowed to enter or leave the county borough without a “reasonable excuse”.
Everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in shops and other indoor areas where social distancing cannot be maintained.
People will only be able to meet outdoors and meetings with other people indoors and extended households will not be allowed for the time being.
Bars and restaurants are not being closed.
The new restrictions will apply to everyone living within the Caerphilly County Borough Council area and will be in place for at least two weeks.
Caerphilly has become the first area in Wales to have local lockdown restrictions in place.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “We have seen a significant rise in cases in Caerphilly borough over a very short space of time, which are linked to holiday travel abroad and people socialising indoors and not following social distancing guidelines.
“A lot of these cases are in younger people and thankfully, at the moment, most of these are mild. But coronavirus is now circulating in the community and it’s only a matter of time before we start to see more serious cases, which need hospital treatment.
“We need the help of everyone in Caerphilly borough to prevent the increasing and onward spread of coronavirus. We can only bring this local outbreak under control if everyone pulls together and follows these new steps.
“If we do not see cases falling, we may need to take further steps to bring this local outbreak under control.”
In the last seven days there have been 98 new cases confirmed, equivalent to a rate of 55.4 cases per 100,000 population – the highest rate in Wales and one of the highest in the UK. It is expected case numbers will continue to rise.
Community testing was introduced in Caerphilly at the weekend. On Saturday, some 450 people were tested and 19 were positive – a rate of 4% – indicating the virus is circulating in the community. A similar number of people were tested on Sunday and the results are expected shortly.
New drive through testing centre open
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is opening a new drive through testing facility at Penallta House council offices in Ystrad Mynach from Tuesday, September 8.
The test centre at Caerphilly Leisure Centre, which was due to close on Tuesday, will remain open for another week.
People with coronavirus symptoms are being urged to attend to take a quick test.
The drive through testing centre will be at Penallta House council offices, Tredomen Business Park, Ystrad Mynach, CF82 7PG. It will be operational from Tuesday, September 8 until September 15. The opening hours will be 9am to 6pm.
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The new travel restrictions will mean people cannot enter or leave Caerphilly County Borough Council area without a reasonable excuse – this includes work if people are unable to work from home, or making a compassionate visit to a loved one or to give care.
People will only be able to meet others outdoors for the time being as indoor meetings and gatherings will be restricted. However, care visits will be able to go ahead.
People urged to stick to the rules
Councillor Philippa Marsden, leader of Caerphilly Council, said: “We need to create a break in the cycle of infection we are seeing in Caerphilly borough at the moment and unfortunately that means introducing new, tougher restrictions.
“I would urge everyone living in the area to follow these new measures; to follow the social distancing guidelines and to wash their hands regularly. If we all work together, we can bring this outbreak under control and reduce cases of the virus.”
Caerphilly Senedd Member Hefin David said: “These measures are necessary to protect the elderly and vulnerable in our community and fall some way short of a full lockdown as we saw in March.
“If we can return to the discipline of social distancing, hand washing and responsible behaviour then we will be able to contain the virus.
“The last thing we want to see is more restrictions and I would urge everyone to comply with these regulations.”
Islwyn Senedd Member Rhianon Passmore added: “All generations must do their bit. We know that the virus impacts people differently but we are all each other’s keepers.
“Together we can all play our part in the battle to combat this virus.”
The new measures will be kept under regular review and enforcement of the new restrictions will be undertaken by the council and police.
South Wales East Senedd Member Delyth Jewell said: “The best way we have now of looking out for our most vulnerable friends and neighbours is by following government guidelines and maintaining social distancing.
“Anyone experiencing Coronavirus symptoms should seek a test immediately and self-isolate for 14 days.”
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