Two households in Wales can form bubble from next Monday under new Covid rules

Two households in Wales will be able to join together to form a bubble from next Monday, under new coronavirus rules outlined by the Welsh Government.

First minister Mark Drakeford has outlined a new set of national rules, which will replace the current 'fire-break' restrictions from Monday 9 November.

The new national regulations will also replace the previous local lockdowns.

Some of the new measures are still being finalised following the announcement over the weekend about a month-long lockdown in England, which will start on Thursday.

During the fire-break, it has only been possible to see the people you live with in your own home - but from next Monday, people from a maximum of two households will be able to meet.

People should only meet with their 'bubble' in their own home. If one person from either household develops symptoms, everyone should immediately self-isolate.

There will also be new arrangements to meet indoors in other settings, such as pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, but these discussions are ongoing, said the first minister.

All non-essential businesses forced to close during the fire-break, such as restaurants, cafes, pubs and gyms, will be able to reopen on November 9.

There will be a ban on travel between Wales and England, with people not permitted to do so without a reasonable excuse, such as work.

He said that the travel restrictions may mean the "hardest border there has been between Wales and England for centuries."

Non-essential international travel - for example, a holiday flight from Cardiff Airport - is also not allowed.

There will be no restrictions on travel inside Wales from 9 November, meaning people will not be confined to their own local authority area or within a certain radius - but people are still urged to travel only if necessary.

The Welsh Government said it has to consider the impact that England's lockdown will have Wales.

Mr Drakeford said: We need to do this because we share a long and porous border with England.

"Every day – on a non-lockdown day – almost 150,000 people criss-cross this border to work, visit family, shop, do business and travel.

"And every day, a huge volume of goods and services flow through Wales to England and vice-versa.

"The English lockdown will have an impact on people who live in Wales but work in England; on companies operating in both Wales and England and on businesses trading along the border."

Welsh Government announced that Wales would enter a fire-break lockdown in response to increasing numbers of coronavirus cases. Credit: PA

Mr Drakeford also confirmed the Wales-wide lockdown will not be extended in light of England's lockdown.

But he added: "Our plans – and our discussions – have had to adapt to the unexpected announcement by the Prime Minister that England will start a month-long lockdown on Thursday."

Wales entered a 17-day national lockdown on 23 October, which saw all non-essential shops and businesses shut.

The start of the fire-break coincided with half-term, but for the second week, from today, some pupils are returning.

Mr Drakeford said that from 9 November, all schools will reopen, churches and places of worship will be able to resume services, local authority services will resume and community centres will be available for small groups to meet safely indoors.

In addition, up to 15 people can take part in an organised indoor activity and up to 30 in an organised outdoor activity, providing all social distancing, hand hygiene and other covid safety measures are followed.

Shops selling multiple types of products have been able stay open during the fire-break but can only sell essential items. Credit: PA Images

The need to maintain two-metre social distancing and wear face masks in enclosed public places, including on public transport and taxis, will continue.

The requirement to work from home whenever possible will also remain in place.

Mr Drakeford added: "Each of us has an important part to play in slowing the spread of coronavirus in Wales and saving lives - we cannot do this without your help.

"Everyone has made so many sacrifices this year already. To make sure we do not lose all this hard work, we need to carry on looking after each other and keeping ourselves safe.

"This is a virus which thrives on human contact.

"Social contact is important to all of us but to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, we need to think carefully about all our meetings and contacts with other people and try and reduce them to reduce our risk of infection.

"Rather than us asking what we can or can't do, we need to ask ourselves what should we be doing to keep our families safe.

"Government rules and regulations are here to help. But the real strength we have is in the choices we make and the actions we take together."

Meanwhile, Darren Millar from the Welsh Conservatives has told ITV News he isn't in agreement with the current fire-break and wants to see a "more targeted intervention" in Wales.

Comparing the coronavirus rates in Ceredigion and Merthyr Tydfil as an example, he said: "We need a more targeted approach to intervention. You shouldn't apply the same level of restrictions to both of those places, given the wildly different rates."

The Senedd Member for Clwyd West also said he didn't accept that Wales is having a shorter lockdown of two weeks, compared to one month in England.

He said: "We haven't had a shorter lockdown, with respect. What we've had are three weeks in north Wales of local lockdown, followed by two weeks of national lockdown, by the time that we come out of this. In some parts of south Wales, they will have had seven weeks of severe restrictions.

"So I don't accept that this is just a two-week lockdown. This is actually a much longer period than that, and the economic and health consequences will be severe."