More details have been revealed around the forthcoming two-week ‘fire break’ lockdown which was announced recently by Welsh Government.
Set to take place between Friday 23 October and Monday 9 November and described as being a ‘short, sharp shock’ to try and turn around a rise in the number of positive cases of coronavirus, the lockdown will impose a number of restrictions upon households and businesses throughout Wales.
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, and can also leave home to exercise either alone, with members of your household and / 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 organised activities such as Halloween or Bonfire Night, will not be able to take place, and community centres, libraries and recycling centres will all need to close. However, local parks, playgrounds and outdoor gyms will all remain open.
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 to take exams, but other pupils will continue with their learning from home for an extra week.
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.
Health and NHS services will continue to operate, and where indoor public spaces remain open, face coverings must be worn, including on public transport and in taxis.
To support businesses during the lockdown fortnight, Welsh Government has announced a new £300m fund. Every business covered by the small business rates relief will receive a £1,000 payment, while all small and medium-sized retail, leisure and hospitality businesses, that have to close will receive a one-off payment of up to £5,000.
A recently announced fund to help businesses develop in the longer term is being increased from £80m to £100m, with the additional £20m ring-fenced to support tourism and hospitality businesses.
Additional discretionary grants and support will also be available, and businesses will be able to access the existing Job Retention Scheme or the newly expanded Job Support Scheme. UK Government is also continuing to make wage-support schemes available.
Council Leader Huw David said: “Throughout Wales, the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, not better. People are dying, and the situation needs to be taken far more seriously across all levels of the community.
“Nobody wants to enter into another lock-down situation, but Welsh Government’s planned ‘fire-break’ is necessary in order to try and turn the tide, and prevent our hospitals and essential services from becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus cases this autumn and winter.
“The worsening situation has meant that the Ysbyty’r Seren field hospital on Bridgend industrial estate has already started accepting patients from the Royal Glamorgan, Prince Charles and Princess of Wales hospitals.
“As these are the three main hospitals in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area, the field facilities are designed to ease the strain upon them, and ensure that they can continue to focus upon patients who require more specialist care.
“We all have to do our bit to support these efforts in order to protect ourselves, our friend and families, and our communities.
“On a local level, now that the lockdown details have been confirmed, Bridgend County Borough council and its partners will be considering the requirements carefully, and will be spending the next few days making preparations to ensure that they can be implemented in full.
“We will be paying particular attention to details surrounding schools, support for businesses and services for vulnerable people, and will be making further announcements on these in due course.
“In the meantime, I urge people to visit the Welsh Government website where a series of frequently asked questions have been provided to help provide a wide range of context and answers around the lockdown.”
Announcing the lockdown, 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.
“This fire-break is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much-longer – and damaging – national lockdown.
“We have a small window of opportunity to act. To be successful, we need everyone’s help. Wales has shown throughout this pandemic that we can come together, and take the actions to keep our families and our communities safe.”
Following the end of the fire-break lockdown, a new set of national rules will be introduced covering how people can meet, how the public sector and businesses can operate and more.
- Look out for more details from Bridgend County Borough Council soon. In the meantime, please visit the Welsh government website to view frequently asked questions.