Wales circuit breaker lockdown: What is it? And which restrictions will be in place?

19 October 2020, 15:33 | Updated: 19 October 2020, 16:24

Wales is facing another nationwide lockdown following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases
Wales is facing another nationwide lockdown following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Wales is set to enter a circuit breaker lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. But what is a circuit breaker? And which restrictions will be in place?

First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed on Monday that a "short, sharp shock" would be needed in Wales amid concerns over NHS services that are already struggling to cope.

He also announced a £300 million economic resilience fund to help businesses through the shutdown, meaning every business covered by the small business rates relief will get a £1,000 payment.

Universities and colleges will remain open through the lockdown but there will be restrictions on people mixing with other households.

So what will the Welsh circuit break lockdown look like? What restrictions will be in place? And why are the measures necessary?

Read more: Wales to enter 'fire break' lockdown to help stop rise of Covid-19

Explained: What is a circuit breaker lockdown and what could one look like?

What is a circuit breaker lockdown?

A circuit breaker lockdown, also known as a "fire-break" lockdown, has been described as a "short, sharp shock" to the country in order to bring down the rising rates of Covid-19 cases.

It will consist of a series of restrictive measures, similar to what the UK experienced in March and April, but will be different in that it will be in place for a set amount of time, rather than an indefinite period as it was earlier this year.

The circuit breaker lockdown was initially devised in Singapore, where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong implemented the measure in April.

When will the Welsh circuit breaker start? And how long will it last?

The lockdown measures will come into force at 6pm on Friday 23 October and will last for 17 days until Monday 9 November.

At the end of the fire-break, a new set of national rules will be introduced, covering how people can meet and how the public sector and businesses can operate.

Why is a circuit breaker lockdown necessary in Wales?

The Welsh Government said the fortnight-long action is needed "to save lives and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed".

Cases of Covid-19 have been rising sharply in Wales as the country prepares for the winter months. Although the national and local measures put in place so far have helped to curb the spread, "there is a growing consensus that additional action is now needed" a government spokesperson said.

Between 10 and 16 October, there were 3,870 new confirmed cases recorded by Public Health Wales, based on positive test results, however the real level of infections is believed to be much higher.

Meanwhile, the number of people admitted to hospital with Covid symptoms is growing daily, along with the number of people dying with the virus.

The country's R number is at 1.4 and the seven-day rolling incidence rate for Wales stands at more than 120 cases per 100,000 people.

What restrictions will be in place in Wales?

There are five main restrictions that will apply to people living in Wales, which are:

• People must stay at home, except for very limited purposes
• They must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with
• Certain businesses and venues, including bars, restaurants and most shops must close
• Secondary schools will be closed for an additional week after half term, although primary schools and childcare settings will remain open
• Face coverings will continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that remain open, including on public transport and in taxis, however there will be a number of specific exemptions

For a full list of all the rules and restrictions in place, such as whether you should work from home and whether you are allowed to go outside for exercise, you can visit the Welsh Government's FAQ page here.

What will happen if I break the new laws?

If you fail to adhere to the new rules from Friday, you may be told to go home or be removed from where you are and returned home instead.

You could also have to pay a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will rise to £120 for the second breach, or you could have criminal proceedings brought against you and, if found guilty, you will have to pay a fine.

Even where something may be allowed, the Welsh Government is asking people not to think about whether it is permitted but whether it is truly necessary and sensible.

Any local restrictions previously in place will be overruled by the circuit breaker.

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