Wales declares ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to ‘save the NHS’ from FRIDAY: All bars, restaurants and non-essential shops will shut for TWO WEEKS from 6pm with people ordered to ‘stay at home’ unless they are critical workers
- Wales has announced ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to combat coronavirus today
- Bars, restaurants, non-essential shops will be shut for two weeks under plan
- The ‘firebreaker’ will come into effect from 6pm on Friday, First Minister said
- The move will heap pressure on Boris Johnson to follow suit with national curbs
Wales announced a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown today – with bars, restaurants and non-essential shops facing being closed down for two weeks.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said the draconian move will take effect from 6pm on Friday to combat a coronavirus surge.
Describing the measures as a ‘firebreaker’, he warned that failure to act now would mean ‘more people will die’.
He said everyone in Wales will be ordered to ‘stay at home’ unless they are critical workers or have no choice about going out to work. Schools will reopen after half-term, he told a press conference.
The step will heap pressure on Boris Johnson, who has been desperately resisting the option in England despite backing from his own SAGE experts.
Northern Ireland and Scotland have already introduce their own national crackdowns amid spiking cases, but the PM has been sticking to his plan for local ‘Tiers’.
A leaked letter from the transport industry in Wales suggests a two-week circuit-break lockdown is to be introduced from 6pm on October 23 and will last until November 9, with all but essential retail outlets closed.
The step will heap pressure on Boris Johnson, who has been desperately resisting the option in England
Deaths in Wales have begun rising since the summer months saw infections plateau
Wales risked the wrath of Westminster on Friday by pushing ahead with an ‘unenforceable’ ban on travellers from English coronavirus hotspots.
Mr Drakeford said the border restrictions were needed as Mr Johnson had ignored his plea to impose UK-wide legal limits on travelling from Tier Two and Three areas.
However, the border restrictions have been derided as impractical and anti-English by critics.
The Welsh Government is also demanding more support from Westminster to protect jobs and businesses.
Health minister Vaughan Gething said the furlough scheme ends on October 31 and will be replaced by the UK Government with a ‘less generous’ Job Support Scheme.
He told the BBC’s Politics Wales show yesterday that the Welsh Government was ‘arguing’ with ministers in London that a ‘more certain and more generous package’ is needed.
From November 1 the UK Government will pay 67 per cent of wages – up to a maximum of £2,100 a month – for each employee in businesses forced to close.
Staff must be off work for a minimum of seven days to be eligible, and their employer does not have to pay towards their salary.
Under the current furlough scheme workers get up to 80 per cent of their pay – 20 per cent from their employer and 60 per cent from the Government.
Mr Gething said the decision on a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown was is yet to be taken but the Welsh Government is having a ‘range of conversations with stakeholders’ to understand what the lockdown might look like.
‘Part of the challenge is that support for jobs and businesses is going to change on November 1 and it will be a less generous scheme and it will only be available if businesses are legally required to close,’ he said.
‘It is a matter of fact that the new support scheme available from November 1 is less generous than the furlough scheme.
‘That’s the reality we are having to deal with, while trying to argue with the UK Government that a more certain and more generous package is needed if we are going to have the desired effect of any national intervention of any kind to reduce transmission rates while protecting people’s livelihoods as far as possible.’
Mr Drakeford said last week that local lockdowns in force across 17 areas of Wales – affecting more than 2.3 million people – have not succeeded in slowing the spread of the virus enough.
Meanwhile, there have been a further 950 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 35,628.
Public Health Wales said three further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic rising to 1,711.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: ‘There is a growing consensus we now need to introduce a different set of measures and actions to respond to the virus as it continues to spread across Wales more quickly during the autumn and winter months ahead.’
The Welsh Government has banned people from Covid hotspots in the rest of the UK from entering the country
WHAT ARE THE THREE TIERS?
TIER 1/MEDIUM: This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place.
- you must not socialise in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors
- certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am
- businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is a take-out service
- places of worship remain open, subject to the rule of 6
- weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees
- exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors with the rule of 6
TIER 2/HIGH: On top of restrictions in alert level medium:
- you must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting
- you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden
- exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport
- you can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
TIER 3/VERY HIGH: At a minimum, this means:
- you must not socialise with anybody you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden
- you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space such as a park
- pubs and bars must close and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant, which means serving substantial meals
- places of worship remain open, but household mixing is not permitted
- weddings (but not receptions) and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
- you should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if you are resident in a very-high alert level area
The government will also seek to agree additional interventions in consultation with local authorities.