Wales is entering a new fire-break lockdown at 6pm on Friday, October 23, which once again requires everyone to stay at home, other than for certain reasons, and the closure of all non-essential businesses.
Mark Drakeford said earlier this week that the way the virus was spreading in Wales meant a lack of action would mean the NHS will not be able to look after the increasing number of people who will fall seriously ill in the coming weeks.
He said that if this were to happen, “even more extreme measures” would be needed to bring the virus under control, with the country looking at an open-ended national lockdown, like the one we had in March.
These rules take effect from today. Last night, there was a party atmosphere on the streets of Cardiff as people had one last night out — you can see the pictures, including a crowd of people singing together outside Greggs, here.
The key fire-break points and rules you must now follow
- The lockdown will last two weeks, starting at 6pm on Friday, October 23. It will include the half-term holiday and cover two weeks, ending on Monday November 9.
- Between these dates, everyone in Wales will be required to stay at home except for certain reasons, set out below.
- This means working from home wherever possible. The only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is simply not possible.
- No gatherings with people you do not live with either indoors or outdoors during the two-week period. There will be an exception for adults living alone and single parents who will be able to join with one other household for support.
- All non-essential retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses will close. This is the same as during the March lockdown. On Thursday night, it emerged that supermarkets would be told only to sell “essential” goods, suggesting that they may not be able to sell clothes and other goods — you can read that story here.
- Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will close. Places of worship will be closed for normal services, except for funerals or wedding ceremonies.
- Primary and special schools will re-open as normal after half-term.
- Secondary schools will re-open after the half-term for children in years seven and eight. 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 continue to provide a blend of in person and online learning. Students cannot go home for reading weeks and will need to stay at home in their university accommodation.
When can I leave home?
You should only be outside of your home for very limited reasons, which include:
Obtaining supplies and services for you or your household, for example food, medicine, and essential household maintenance. People are encouraged to make these trips as infrequently as possible.
Exercising, alone or with members of your household. People are encouraged to do this locally.
Accessing childcare and education.
Accessing medical services or other public services.
Depositing and withdrawing money from a bank or similar establishment.
Providing care for or to help a vulnerable person; this includes getting food or medicines for them
Helping the NHS by donating blood
For work purposes, or voluntary or charitable purposes, but only where it is not reasonably practicable to do this from home
Visiting a cemetery, burial ground or garden of remembrance to pay your respects
Attending a wedding, civil partnership or funeral if you are invited
Attending court or meeting other legal obligations
Escaping a risk of illness or injury, such as for victims or people at risk of domestic abuse
Accessing services provided to victims of crime or domestic abuse or those at imminent risk of becoming victims.
Whenever you leave home, you are advised to try to minimise time spent outside of the home, and ensure you stay at least two metres away from anyone you don’t live with or are in a permitted “bubble” with.
Can I meet up with another household?
For most households the answer will be no, you must not meet up with anyone you do not live with, except in very limited circumstances such as providing or receiving care (see answer below on caring responsibilities).
But if you are an adult living alone or are a single parent household, you can form a temporary extended household with one other household. This will allow you to spend time with the people in that household as if you lived with them. You do not have to live in the same local authority area.
Can friends or family from another household come into my home?
No – see answer above.
Are the rules on who I can meet different indoors and outdoors?
No. The purpose of this short lockdown is to reduce all physical contact between households to an absolute minimum.
Can I form an extended household (or bubble)?
No, you cannot form an extended household. The only exception to this is if you are an adult living alone or are a single parent household, in which case you can be in a temporary extended household with one other household.
Can I leave home to exercise?
Yes. Exercise is important for physical and mental health, and you can leave home as often as you like to exercise as long as you do so from home and alone or with members of your household (and/or a carer).
What kind of exercise is permitted?
There are no legal limits on this, but in practice this is constrained by other restrictions that have been imposed such as the closure of leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools. As one of the purposes of the restrictions is to reduce pressure on the Welsh NHS, we also ask people to avoid activities that involve a significant degree of risk (for example swimming or other exercise at sea, or in lakes, rivers or other waterways).
What will happen after Monday, November 9?
Following the end of the fire-break, a new set of national rules are expected to be introduced, covering how people can meet and how the public sector and businesses operate.
The Welsh Government has not published details of these yet.
My area is currently subject to local restrictions – do these continue as well?
No – the circuit breaker lockdown will apply in the same way across Wales.
What does the Welsh Government mean by a “fire-break lockdown”?
It is described as a short, sharp “circuit breaker” or “fire-break” which is intended to help regain control of coronavirus. This means that a series of restrictive measures will be in place from 6pm on Friday, October 23, until the start of Monday, November 9.
Why is this being done?
The Welsh Government has said the fortnight-long action is needed to save lives and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.
Cases of coronavirus have been rising sharply in Wales as the virus has woken up for winter. While the national and local measures put in place across Wales have helped to keep that spread under check, there is a feeling that additional action is now needed.
Between October 10 and 16, there were 3,870 new confirmed cases of coronavirus recorded by Public Health Wales, based on positive test results, but the real level of infections will be much higher. The number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms is growing daily and sadly, so too, is the number of people dying with coronavirus.
The R number, which describes the infection rate, is at 1.4, which means that every person with the virus is infecting 1.4 others on average. The seven-day rolling incidence rate for Wales stands at more than 120 cases per 100,000 population.
We have picked out above only a certain amount of the main rules in place in Wales from 6pm on Friday, October 23. But we have covered the rules in far greater detail here, including more detail on work, education, playgrounds and many more things.
How many cases are there near you? Find out with your post code:
Mark Drakeford said: “To be successful, we need everyone’s help. Here in Wales, this is the moment to come together; to play our part in a common endeavour to once again protect the NHS and save lives.
“If we can do this, our health service will be able to care for people with coronavirus and everyone who needs emergency treatment as well as providing more routine care this winter. And, most importantly, it will save lives.”