Watch: Wales announces two-week national lockdown
‘Sharp and deep’ 16-day national lockdown imposed in Wales
Circuit breaker starts on Friday, with people ordered to stay at home
First minister Mark Drakeford says hospitals at risk of being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients ‘if we do not act now’
A circuit-breaker lockdown lasting more than two weeks has been imposed on Wales.
The national lockdown will start at 6pm on Friday and finish on 9 November, first minister Mark Drakeford announced at a press conference on Monday.
Everyone in Wales has been ordered to stay at home, with the only exceptions being for critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible.
Drakeford described it as “sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus”.
It comes as the number of COVID-19 hospital admissions in Wales continues to rise by the day.
“If we do not act now,” Drakeford said, “it will continue to accelerate and there is a very real risk our NHS will be overwhelmed.”
He said the temporary lockdown would be a “short, sharp shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and give us more time”.
All non-essential retail, leisure and hospitality businesses will be forced to close during the 16-day period, as well as community centres, libraries and places of worship – apart from for funerals and weddings.
The circuit breaker, also labelled a “fire break” by Drakeford, has been timed to include schools’ half-term breaks starting on Monday.
Once the one-week holiday has finished, primary and special schools will reopen. However, only Year 7 and 8 pupils will return to secondary schools, with other year groups to “continue their learning from home for that extra week”.
Meanwhile, university students have been told to stay in their accommodation.
Any household mixing indoors or outdoors has been banned, with exceptions for adults living alone or single parents, who will continue to be able to join another household.
Local lockdowns had previously been in force in 17 areas of Wales, affecting more than 2.3m people.
It comes after Drakeford imposed a travel ban on Friday, preventing people from areas of the UK with high levels of COVID-19 from entering Wales.
The country’s new lockdown is likely to increase the pressure on Boris Johnson to introduce a circuit breaker in England.
On Monday last week, the prime minister announced a three-tier system of local lockdowns for England.
Just hours later, however, one of Johnson’s top coronavirus advisers, Prof Chris Whitty, said the basic Tier 3 restrictions won’t be enough to restrict the spread of the virus. Tier 3 is the most severe for areas with the highest levels of infections.
It then emerged the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) recommended a circuit-breaker lockdown last month.
The following day, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also called for a circuit breaker lasting up to three weeks. He said Johnson had “lost control” of the virus and didn’t have a “credible plan” to deal with it.
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