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Monday, October 19, 2020

Wales goes into "short sharp" national lockdown from Friday

* First Minister Mark Drakeford announces the new lockdown.

Wales will go into a "short, sharp" national lockdown from Friday until Monday, 9 November, the BBC says.

People will be told to stay at home, while pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops will shut.

Primary schools will reopen after the half-term break, but only Years 7 and 8 in secondary schools will return at that time under new "firebreak" rules.

Gatherings indoors and outdoors with people not in your household will also be banned.

Leisure businesses, community centres, libraries and recycling centres will shut. Places of worship will be closed for normal services, except for funerals and weddings.

The announcement follows rising case numbers in Wales and increasing hospital admissions, and replaces the 17 local lockdowns that had been in place.

Figures now stand at 130 coronavirus cases per 100,000 over seven days - there were 4,127 cases recorded between 9 and 15 October.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the "time-limited 'firebreak'" will be "a short, sharp, shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and buy us more time".

Halloween and Bonfire Night gatherings will not be allowed under the restrictions, which begin on Friday at 18:00 BST.

But there will be an exception for small Remembrance Sunday commemoration services on 8 November.

Universities in Wales will continue to provide "a blend of in-person and online learning".

If students have reading weeks or half-term they will also need to stay at home in their university accommodation, the first minister said.

The Welsh Government has provided a package of almost £300m to support businesses.

According to the BusinessLive website, this will include:

  • Extra Economic Resilience Fund of £300m.
  • £150m into Phase 3 of the ERF to support those businesses directly affected by the fire break.
  • Every business covered by Small Business Rate Relief will get a £1,000 payment.
  • Small and medium sized retail, leisure and hospitality businesses which have to close will receive one-off payment of up to £5,000. They will come to businesses automatically.
  • Additional discretionary grant and support for smaller businesses who are struggling because of restrictions.
  • £80 ERF fund announced recently increase to £100m. £20m ringfenced for tourism and hospitality.
  • Businesses will also be able to access the support available through the existing Job Retention Scheme or the new expanded Job Support Scheme.

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