Wales’ 17-day fire-break lockdown has ended and a set of new national restrictions have come into force to try and control the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The fire-break lockdown was advertised as a ‘short, sharp, shock to the virus’ and saw the closure of non-essential retail, hospitality and people being told to ‘stay at home’ except for a limited number of reasons. It is expected to take some time before the effects of the lockdown period can be noticed, though there is already some evidence of a plateauing case rate in the country.
As Wales comes out of the lockdown period, it will not be returning to the regional/local restrictions it had in early October, but instead a set of new national restrictions. Here’s a look at what the new measures involve;
What are the key restrictions?
- The need to maintain two-metre social distancing and wear face masks in enclosed public places will continue
- The requirement to work from home whenever possible will remain
- People should only meet with their ‘bubble’ in their own home and only two households will be able to form a ‘bubble’
- Up to 15 people can take part in an organised indoors activity and up to 30 in an organised activity outdoors – an organised activity is where somebody is responsible for the restrictions being adhered to, such as a national sport governing body or the management committee of a community centre.
- Groups of four people from different households can meet indoors or outdoors at pubs, cafes and restaurants, subject to social distancing.
- All premises closed during the firebreak will be allowed to reopen – this includes restaurants, cafes, pubs, gyms and more
- People should though avoid non-essential travel as much as possible. Travel within Wales will not be restricted under law, however, international travel (and travel to the rest of the UK) should be for essential reasons only until at least the start of December.
The measures will be effective from 9 November and reviewed after two weeks.
‘People and not rules’ at heart of Wales’ response to pandemic
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has repeatedly urged people to think carefully about the contact they have with other people, saying “the more people we meet, the more people are at risk from coronavirus.”
The First Minister has been keen to emphasize that people should not look at how they can test the rules to their maximum and should instead be responsible as the country comes out of lockdown. When announcing the new measures last week, Mr Drakeford said: “Rather than us asking what we can or can’t do, we need to ask ourselves what should we be doing to keep our families safe.”