Wales Imposes Two-Week 'Circuit Breaker' Lockdown

Ned Simons
·Politics news editor, HuffPost UK
·2-min read

A two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown similar to the first restrictions imposed in March is to be introduced in Wales from next week, first minister Mark Drakeford has announced.

The lockdown will begin at 6pm on Friday October 23 and last until November 9, it will see bars, restaurants and non-essential shops shut.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Drakeford said everyone in Wales will be required to stay at home apart from critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible.

Household mixing both indoors and outdoors will be banned. But there will be an exception for adults living alone and single parents, who will be able to see someone else for support.

The period covers the half-term break (Friday October 23 – Monday November 2).

Primary schools will reopen after half-term break, and Years 7 and 8 will return to secondary schools.

Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will also close while places of worship will be shut other than for funerals or wedding ceremonies.

Drakeford said the strict measures were needed as “a short, sharp shock” to suppress a surge in coronavirus cases.

“Unless we act, the NHS will not be able to look after the increasing number of people who are falling serous ill,” he said.

Local lockdowns are already in force in 17 areas of Wales affecting more than 2.3 million people.

A travel ban preventing people from areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus from entering Wales came into force on Friday.

Businesses affected by the lockdown will be supported with a fund of almost £300m, which will open next week.

Every business covered by the small business rates relief will receive a £1,000 payment, while small and medium-sized retail, leisure and hospitality businesses that have to close will receive a one-off £5,000 payment.

The Welsh government said “additional discretionary grants” and support for smaller businesses would also be available.

An £80m fund announced last week to help businesses develop in the longer term will be increased to £100m, with £20m ring-fenced for tourism and hospitality.

Paul Davies, Conservative leader of the opposition in the Senedd, said he believed the national lockdown was “not proportionate”.

“The Welsh government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods,” he said.

Boris Johnson has so far resisted calls for a similar short-term national lockdown to be imposed in England.

Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member Professor Jeremy Farrar said on Sunday it was “never too late” for such a move, it having been first suggested by the government’s science advisers around September 20.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.