People living alone in lockdown areas can meet others indoors from tomorrow, FM confirms

People living alone in areas subject to tighter restrictions can meet with one other household indoors from Saturday, the First Minister has confirmed.

Around 2.4 million people in Wales are currently living under stricter rules, after around 504,000 people across four counties in the north entered lockdown on Thursday.

Extended households or 'bubbles' had previously been banned in areas under lockdown - even if everyone in the bubble lived there.

But the Welsh Government will ease restrictions to prevent loneliness and isolation. The rule of six will still apply to these new single people household bubbles.

It comes after the council in Caerphilly, the first county to be placed under a local lockdown in Wales, confirmed restrictions there would be extended for another seven days.

First Minister Mark Drakeford will give an update on regulations as part of the regular 21-day review. Credit: Welsh Government

Mark Drakeford said: "The coronavirus pandemic has taken a huge toll on all of us – we’ve all been through so much this year already.

"We are once again seeing cases of coronavirus rising across Wales and the reintroduction of restrictions in many parts of the country to protect people’s health and control its spread.

“Many people will have the support of their family at this time but large numbers of people – young and old – live alone. None of us should have to face coronavirus on our own.

“Creating temporary bubbles for single people and single parents in local lockdown areas will make sure they have the emotional support they need during this time.”

Mr Drakeford said someone living on their own could join with a family, or with another adult from a single household, providing they live within the same area under lockdown.

Almost three in 10 White Irish respondents were more likely to report an increase in loneliness. Credit: PA

But Plaid Cymru's shadow health minister said a strategy preventing loneliness that includes all people is needed.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: "I have increasing concern for the welfare of those experiencing loneliness during periods of heightened restrictions – restrictions that now impact so many people in Wales.

"I’m pleased that the welfare of people living alone is being addressed but I’d like to see a wider strategy taking into account all the information we now have on the impact of coronavirus and lockdown on well-being and mental health.

"From the impact on our youngest children - including the effects of a disrupted education - right through to the impact on our elderly and most vulnerable who we know are more likely to suffer the effects of loneliness and isolation, we need a strategy that encompasses all of the Welsh population at this most challenging of times.”

What are the rules in lockdown areas?

  • People are unable to enter or leave their areas without a ''reasonable excuse'', such as work or education

  • Single adults can meet one other household indoors, providing they live within that area

  • Others can only meet people that they do not live with outdoors

  • Extended households or 'bubbles' no longer exist in areas of local lockdown - even if everyone in the bubble lives in the same area (unless they are a single adult).

All other rules, including the rule that licensed premises must stop serving alcohol at 10pm, will remain in place. Credit: PA Images

The restrictions are in addition to the rules that apply everywhere in Wales, which include the requirement for everyone over the age of 11 to wear a face covering inside public spaces.

All licensed premises must also stop selling alcohol at 10pm.

The First Minister also said the Welsh Government will strengthen enforcement powers for local authorities to fine people who organise house parties and to simplify the process to introduce restrictions on drinking alcohol in public.

He confirmed local restrictions introduced across a number of south Wales local authority areas over the last 10 days will also be retained.

First Minister gives update on pandemic in 21-day regulations review: