A two-week lockdown in Wales will begin on Friday, the Welsh Government has confirmed.
Between Friday, October 23 and November 9, everyone in Wales will be required to stay at home.
The new so-called “firebreak” lockdown, or “circuit breaker”, will replace the current local restrictions imposed in some areas of Wales, including Caerphilly, and will begin at 6pm on Friday.
Pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops will close, but primary schools will remain open following the half-term holiday, which runs between Monday, October 26 and Friday October 30.
In secondary schools, only pupils in Years 7 and 8 will go back to class.
Announcing the lockdown on Monday, October, 19, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It is with a heavy heart that I once again ask everyone to stay at home and businesses to shut.
“We are all tired of coronavirus and the many rules and regulations we all have to live with. We all want to see an end to this pandemic and our lives returned to us. Unfortunately, we do not yet have a vaccine, which will allow us to do that.”
The First Minister said there’s a “small window of opportunity to act” and said the firebreak “is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much longer – and damaging – national lockdown”.
He added: “We must come together once again to stay ahead of this virus and to save lives.”
Mr Drakeford ruled out extending the lockdown beyond the 17-day period, but said he doesn’t expect to see the affects of the restrictions to be noticed until after the period is over.
Following the end of the lockdown, a new set of national rules will be introduced by the Welsh Government, covering how people can meet and how the public sector and businesses operate.
Councillor Philippa Marsden, leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, said the new restrictions are a “necessary requirement to help reduce the spread of this deadly virus within our community, so we can enjoy Christmas with our family and friends”.
Cllr Marsden said the new approach would “provide clarity and consistency, making it easier for everyone to follow the same rules” and urged residents to “collective efforts and strictly follow these new rules in order to protect our loved ones.”
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said: “A firebreak is a last resort and should only be used in an emergency. We are now in an emergency.”
Mr Price said the firebreak should be used to “build up a resilient test trace and isolate system”.
Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies called on Welsh Government to be “open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown” .
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What can and can’t we do?
- People must stay at home, except for very limited purposes, such as for exercise.
- People must work from home wherever possible.
- People must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with either indoors and outdoors.
- No gatherings will be allowed outdoors, such as Halloween or fireworks/Bonfire night or other organised activities.
- All non-food retail, hospitality businesses, including cafes, restaurants and pubs (unless they provide take-away or delivery services), close contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, and events and tourism businesses, such as hotels must close.
- Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will be required to close.
- Face coverings must be worn in indoor public spaces, which remain open, including on public transport and in taxis.
During this time:
- Adults living alone or single parents will be able to join with one other household for support. These people will be able to form a ‘bubble’ with households outside their council area.
- Primary and special schools will reopen as normal after half-term.
- Secondary schools will reopen after the half-term for children in years seven and eight and most vulnerable children. Pupils will be able to come in to take exams but other pupils will continue their learning from home for an extra week.
- Universities will provide a blend of in-person and online learning.
- NHS and health services will continue to operate.
- Local parks, playgrounds and outdoor gyms will remain open.
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