Wales to introduce new national measures after firebreak ends

·4-min read

A new set of national rules is being introduced across Wales once the 17-day firebreak ends, First Minister Mark Drakeford said.

Some of the new measures are still being finalised following the announcement over the weekend about a month-long lockdown in England, which will start on Thursday.

Mr Drakeford outlined the new measures during a Welsh Government press conference on Monday and they will come into force on November 9.

The new national measures include:

– The need to maintain two-metre social distancing and wear face masks in enclosed public places, including on public transport and taxis, 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”. If one person from either household develops symptoms, everyone should immediately self-isolate.

– Up to 15 people can take part in an organised indoor activity and up to 30 in an organised activity outdoors, providing all social distancing, hand hygiene and other Covid-19 safety measures are followed.

– All premises, such as restaurants, cafes, pubs and gyms, closed during the firebreak will be able to reopen. Following the announcement about the English lockdown, ministers are having ongoing discussions with the hospitality sector about the detailed rules for reopening. This includes about meeting in public indoor spaces.

– As part of keeping risks to a minimum, people should avoid non-essential travel as much as possible. There will be no legal restrictions on travel within Wales for residents, but international travel should be for essential reasons only.

Mr Drakeford said that, in addition, all schools will reopen, churches and places of worship will be able to resume services, local authority services will resume and community centres will be available for small groups to meet safely indoors.

He said: “Each of us has an important part to play in slowing the spread of coronavirus in Wales and saving lives – we cannot do this without your help.

“Everyone has made so many sacrifices this year already. To make sure we do not lose all this hard work, we need to carry on looking after each other and keeping ourselves safe.

“This is a virus which thrives on human contact.

“Social contact is important to all of us but to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, we need to think carefully about all our meetings and contacts with other people and try and reduce them to reduce our risk of infection.

“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.

“Government rules and regulations are here to help. But the real strength we have is in the choices we make and the actions we take together.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford
First Minister Mark Drakeford (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Government’s press briefing that people in England will not be able to travel into Wales without a reasonable excuse during England’s month-long lockdown.

“People who live in Wales but work in England will have a reasonable reason for travelling to work, and people who live in England and work in Wales clearly have a reasonable excuse for coming across the border to work here,” Mr Drakeford said.

“But it will be a restricted list of essential purposes, rather than the normal to-ing and fro-ing across the border that you would have seen in less fraught and difficult times.”

People in Wales will also not be allowed to travel outside the country without a reasonable excuse when the firebreak ends.

Asked why Wales would not now follow England in imposing a lockdown until December 2, Mr Drakeford said decisions in Wales “cannot and will not” be driven by decisions made by other nations in different circumstances.

“Last week I was being asked a lot of questions about why we had a firebreak at all when in England they were dealing with it by a tiered system, and why hadn’t we done that?” Mr Drakeford said.

“Then at the weekend, the Prime Minister changed his mind and now I’m asked why I don’t follow the latest twist in the English story, and simply we will not be driven by things that happen in that way.

“The advice we had from our chief medical officer and our scientists was that if we acted early and if we had a 17-day period which was short but sharp, the science told us that would be what we needed to help us to turn back the tide of coronavirus in Wales.”