Indoor gatherings of more than six banned in Wales from Monday

11 September 2020, 00:05

Wales will be introducing further lockdown restrictions
Wales will be introducing further lockdown restrictions. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Indoors gatherings of more than six people will be banned from Monday in Wales to stop the spread of coronavirus, First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce on Friday.

Mr Drakeford will tell a press conference in Cardiff that all six people must belong to the same extended household group.

There will be no change to rules allowing up to four households to form an exclusive extended household in Wales.

People will also still be able to meet up in groups of up to 30 outdoors, as long as they maintain social distancing.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The changes come as parts of Wales have seen an increase in cases of the virus linked to people meeting and socialising with others indoors but without social distancing."

These changes will not apply in Caerphilly county borough, where a local lockdown has been enforced to control a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Restrictions on the 181,000 people who live there include a ban on extended households meeting indoors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously announced that a limit of six people for social gatherings would come into force in England on Monday.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that a maximum of six people from two households would be allowed to meet together.

Children under the age of 12 will not count towards the limit of six people, Ms Sturgeon said.

There are some exemptions to the new rules announced in both England and Scotland.

On Thursday, Public Health Wales said a further 102 people had tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 18,931.

Of the new cases, 34 were in Caerphilly, while nine were in Cardiff and nine in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

No further deaths were reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic remaining at 1,597.

Public Health Wales announced that "enhanced public health action" was being taken in both Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil following an increase of cases in both areas.

People are being asked to only use public transport for essential reasons, such as education, work, essential medical appointments and food shopping.

They are advised not to visit care homes unless it is an end of life visit, in which case full personal protective equipment (PPE) will be required.

Three-layer face coverings or masks should also be worn in workplaces, supermarkets and other indoor or crowded public spaces, when safe to do so.

Dr Kelechi Nnoaham, director of public health for Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board, said: "We are grateful to the vast majority of residents in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff local authority areas for sticking to social distancing guidelines, and for the part they have played in protecting older and vulnerable people from coronavirus.

"Sadly, there is evidence that some people are ignoring or disregarding these guidelines, which is why transmission has increased, and we are now having to take enhanced public health action to limit the spread.

"Our message for the public is that coronavirus has not gone away, and it can be a very serious illness - especially for older and vulnerable people.

"We must all play our part to protect our vulnerable or older friends, family members and loved ones.

"Whilst we may not be seeing hospital admissions at the moment, it will only be a matter of weeks if we don't act now.

"This is based on what we are observing in Europe and what is scientifically known about how the virus can quickly spread from community transmissions to hospital admissions."

In the areas, there will be reinforcement of existing messages around social distancing and the need to follow guidelines, as well as enhanced contact tracing.

Other measures include the introduction of mobile testing units, additional checks on returning travellers and employers encouraging staff to work from home where possible.

On Thursday, health minister Vaughan Gething announced that travellers arriving in Wales from Hungary and the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean would need to self-isolate for 14 days.

However, Mr Gething said Sweden would be removed from Wales's quarantine list - meaning those arriving from the Scandinavian country will no longer need to self-isolate.

The new travel restrictions will come into force from 4am on Saturday.