More details have been revealed around the forthcoming two-week ‘fire break’ lockdown which was announced recently by Welsh Government.
Started at 6pm tonight, Friday 23 October and in place until 12.01am on Monday 9 November, the lockdown has been described as a ‘short, sharp shock’ to try and turn around a rapid rise in the number of positive cases of coronavirus.
The Leader, Cllr Huw David, said: “The thinking behind this is that if people are not moving around, neither is the virus, and it gives us a clear chance of vastly reducing the infection rates which have shot up alarmingly in recent weeks.
“It also offers us the best opportunity of ensuring that the festive season remains as normal as possible this year.
“The fact remains that throughout Wales, the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, not better, and we need to prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed during the autumn and winter periods.
“Welsh Government’s ‘fire-break’ lockdown is necessary in order to try and turn this around, and I hope that local residents will support these efforts in order to protect ourselves, our friend and families, and our communities.”
The lockdown will impose a number of restrictions upon households and businesses throughout Wales.
You can read full details at the Welsh Government website, but the following offers a rundown of the main ways in which it will affect Bridgend County Borough.
People will need to stay at home, and also work from home, wherever possible. You can only go out for essential reasons, e.g. to buy food or pick up a prescription. You can also leave home to exercise as often as you like, either alone, with members of your household or a carer.
Adults living alone or single parents will be able to join with one other household for support, but visits to other households or meeting with people you do not live with, either indoors or outdoors, will not be possible.
Outdoor gatherings (including Halloween and Bonfire Night)
Outdoor gatherings will not be able to take place during the lockdown. This includes organised activities such as Halloween and Bonfire Night.
For Remembrance Sunday events organised by town and community councils, up to 30 people may gather where those events are still taking place as long as requirements are observed for social distancing, face coverings, etc. Householders can also participate in the two-minute national silence held at 11am on Sunday 9 November from the doorstep of their homes.
Care and support
You are allowed to provide care and help for someone who needs it during the lockdown, e.g. an older person, a child or a vulnerable adult. This is allowed even if they are not part of your household. You can also visit someone on compassionate grounds if necessary to check on their wellbeing – for example, someone who is suffering from a physical or mental illness, who may have suffered a bereavement, who is struggling with the restrictions etc. However, all requirements around social distancing, hand hygiene etc. must be observed.
Shielding arrangements will not return, but letters are being issued by Welsh Government to everyone included in the shielding scheme, and other people who may be more vulnerable to the impact of virus, to offer advice and guidance on how they can keep themselves safe, and access available support and help. More information is available from the Welsh Government website, and if you need support, you can call the council on 01656 643643.
Waste and recycling collections
Weekly kerbside recycling collections and fortnightly non-recyclable rubbish collections will continue as normal, as will collections for bulky waste, garden waste and absorbent hygiene products.
Community recycling centres
All across Wales, community recycling centres will remain closed during the lockdown. In Maesteg, the Sidings re-use shop will also be closed.
After the October half-term holiday, primary and special schools will re-open as normal, and secondary schools will re-open for children in years seven and eight. Pupils will be able to attend school in order to take exams, but other pupils will continue with their learning from home for an extra week.
Free school meals
All children who are eligible for free school meals will receive food parcels throughout the lockdown and over the half-term break.
Colleges will move to online-only provision for the week following half term. Work-based learning programmes, such as apprenticeships and traineeships, and adult learning will also be online-only for the period of the lockdown. Students scheduled to take GCSE re-sits or university entrance exams in the first week of November can attend college to do so.
Children can continue to access their usual childcare provider, and you can travel to provide, access or receive childcare. Children can also continue to attend staffed playwork provision such as open access play sessions. All childcare and playwork providers, including Flying Start childcare, can remain open to offer normal services, including during the half-term holiday. This includes nannies, childcare and playwork providers operating from community centres, places of worship and school sites.
Libraries, leisure centres and swimming pools
All libraries, pools and local leisure centres will remain closed during the period of the lockdown.
Using family or friends for childcare
Family or friends can continue to provide informal childcare, but this should only be used when no other methods are available. Children should not be cared for outside of their home if they are ill, or by anyone who is ill. Adults dropping off children for childcare should not enter someone else’s home. The Welsh Government website offers specific advice on childcare arrangements during the lockdown.
A range of support will continue to be in place to help anyone who is / who becomes homeless during the lockdown. For more information on how you can access this, visit the council website. Support is also available from organisations such as Shelter Cymru.
Shops and businesses
All non-food retail and hospitality businesses, close contact services, events and tourism businesses are required to close during the lockdown. This will include hairdressers, beauticians, hotels, cafes, restaurants and pubs, but take-away and delivery services will still be able to operate. Full details are available at the Welsh Government website.
Support for businesses
A wide range of support is being made available for local businesses during the lockdown. You can find out more by visiting the council website.
Some public transport providers have confirmed that they will be reverting to a reduced bus schedule during the lockdown. Please check with specific providers, only travel if absolutely necessary, and remember that face coverings must continue to be worn – visit the webpages for First Cymru, Stagecoach and Nat Group for more details.
Cemeteries and Coychurch Crematorium
All council-maintained cemeteries will remain open, and funeral services will continue to take place at Coychurch Crematorium.
Parks, playgrounds and outdoor gyms
Local parks, children’s play areas and outdoor gyms will all remain open. Bryngarw Country Park will also remain open, but with restrictions in place.
Bridgend Register Office
While Bridgend Register Office will be closed to the public throughout the lockdown, ceremonies that have already been arranged specifically at the register office will continue to take place. To find out more, call 01656 642391, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website for more information.
Places of worship, marriages, civil partnerships and funerals
GP surgeries, dentists and vets
Health and NHS services will continue to operate throughout the lockdown. Vets will be able to remain open, but please only seek treatment for an animal if it is urgent and cannot be deferred until after the lockdown.
Support for vulnerable adults and children
A wide range of support is available for vulnerable adults and children during the lockdown, including for people who may be at risk, who are experiencing domestic abuse and more. For full details, visit the council website.
You can still move home if the moving date cannot be delayed until after the lockdown period is over. Activities such as removals, property preparation, the handing over of keys, surveys and valuations can also take place in line with guidance on working in other people’s homes.
Car repairs and MOT certificates
You can still have repair and maintenance work done on your vehicle if it is necessary and cannot reasonably be deferred until after the lockdown period, but routine services should be deferred. If your MOT is due during the lockdown period, you will still need to have it done. If your MOT is not due during this lockdown period but you have an appointment booked, please consider deferring it.
The council website offers a range of support around the coronavirus pandemic, including a serious of frequently asked questions. For advice on a national level, you can also visit the Welsh Government website.