Wales to enter second national lockdown on Friday, as First Minister announces 17-day Covid circuit-breaker

Wales will enter a strict two-week national lockdown from 6pm on Friday, the Welsh Government has confirmed.

The so-called circuit-breaker or fire-break lockdown will include the half-term holiday and will end on Monday 9th November.

Mr Drakeford described it as as a "short, sharp shock" to try to halt the second wave of coronavirus ahead of the winter.

These new restrictions replace the current local lockdown measures and will look similar to the first national lockdown back in March.

Between Friday 23 October and Monday 9 November, businesses must close and everyone in Wales will be required to stay at home. The only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible.

  • ITV Wales' Andrea Byrne explains the fire-break rules

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the decision had been "difficult", but confirmed that it is a fixed lockdown period that will not be extended.

The new lockdown rules at a glance:

  • People must stay at home, except for very limited purposes

  • People 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 provide learning online only for the week after half-term, other than for children in years seven and eight. Primary schools and childcare settings will remain open.

  • Face coverings continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that remain open (subject to certain exemptions and exceptions), including on public transport and in taxis

Read on for a breakdown of the new lockdown rules.

People are not allowed to meet others, either indoors or outdoors. Credit: PA Images
  • Social gatherings

Under the new lockdown rules coming in on Friday evening, you cannot meet people you don’t live with - either indoors or outdoors.

The only exception is single parents and adults living alone, who are allowed to form a support bubble with one other household.

Under the new rules, planned gatherings for Halloween and Bonfire Night can no longer go ahead.

However, services to mark Remembrance Sunday, which falls during the lockdown period, will be permitted. The First Minister said it is "important" that we remember the sacrifices made.

Pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants will close, unless they can offer a takeaway service. Credit: PA Images
  • Retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism

All non-essential retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses will close. This is the same as during the March lockdown.

Cafes, pubs and restaurants must shut their doors, unless they can offer a takeaway service.

Close contact work, such as hair and beauty salons, cannot operate during the lockdown period.

Unlimited exercise is allowed whilst in lockdown, with outdoor gyms and local parks staying open. However, indoor gyms will close.

Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will be shut for the duration of the lockdown.

Tourism businesses will also close, and people planning a holiday in Wales between Friday 23 October and Monday 9 November have been told they cannot go ahead with their trip.

"We look forward to welcoming people into Wales once again, but now is not the time," the First Minister said.

Schools will reopen after half term, but some pupils will study from home for an extra week.
  • Schools, universities and childcare

Primary and special schools will re-open as normal after half-term, it has been confirmed.

Secondary schools will re-open after the half-term for children in years seven and eight. Pupils will be able to come in to take exams, but other pupils will continue their learning from home for an extra week.

Universities and colleges will continue to provide a blend of in-person and online learning. Students will need to stay at home in their university accommodation for half-term or reading weeks.

Childcare services will remain open.

Wedding ceremonies will be permitted, as will funerals. Credit: PA Images
  • Weddings and funerals

Places of worship will close for normal services, except for wedding ceremonies and funerals.

Register offices are able to remain open for wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, with strict virus control measures in place. Other approved wedding venues are required to close alongside other businesses in the hospitality sector.

Wedding or civil partnership receptions are not permitted.

Support for businesses

Extra support has been promised for businesses affected by the two-week lockdown.

Every business covered by the small business rates relief will get a £1,000 payment.

Small and medium-sized retail, leisure and hospitality businesses which have to close will receive a one-off payment of up to £5,000.

There will also be additional discretionary grants and support for struggling smaller businesses.

The First Minister also said he has written to the Chancellor to ask him to give Welsh businesses early access to the new expanded Job Support Scheme from Friday.

This would remove the need for businesses to juggle the Job Retention Scheme and the Job Support Scheme during this fire-break period.

Mark Drakeford said the decision to lock Wales down again had been a "difficult" one. Credit: PA Images

Speaking at today's press conference, Mark Drakeford said: "It is with a heavy heart that I once again ask everyone to stay at home and businesses to shut.

"We are all tired of coronavirus and the many rules and regulations we all have to live with.

"We all want to see an end to this pandemic and our lives returned to us.

"Unfortunately, we do not yet have a vaccine which will allow us to do that.

"So this is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much longer – and damaging – national lockdown.

"We have a small window of opportunity to act.

"To be successful, we need everyone’s help. Here in Wales, this is the moment to come together; to play our part in a common endeavour to once again protect the NHS and save lives.

"If we can do this, our health service will be able to care for people with coronavirus and everyone who needs emergency treatment as well as providing more routine care this winter.

"And, most importantly, it will save lives.

"This will not be easy but we will do it together."

Watch the First Minister's press conference in full:

Meanwhile, an intensive care consultant has told ITV News that the situation needs to change or the NHS will be "completely overwhelmed".

Dr Ami Jones said: "We've seen a sustained spike in infections and that's translated its way into hospitals.

"Certainly, we've seen doublings of numbers every week in hospital patients who've got Covid. The intensive care units are pretty busy with Covid, but also with non-Covid patients as well - and we're heading into winter.

"The second wave isn't going to be like the first. Winter is very busy already and the NHS will not cope if we get a sustained rise in cases."

Dr Jones also criticised those deliberately flouting coronavirus safety measures.

She said: "We're disappointed it's come to [a second lockdown]. I know there are lots of people at home really sticking to the rules, but there is obviously a number of people who aren't.

"They're letting us all down. It should be really high on people's priorities to protect themselves and their families and their communities. And they do really need to stick to the rules, and stick to them for the long term.

"We're tired and we are a little bit broken. It's been absolutely heart-wrenching, what we've seen in the past eight, nine months, and we don't want to repeat it."

Watch the interview with Dr Ami Jones here: