Two-thirds of Wales‘ population remain under local lockdown after coronavirus restrictions were imposed, with a potential time-limited circuit-breaker lockdown now also being considered to deal with a huge spike in Covid cases.
The introduction of local lockdowns in 17 areas of Wales, affecting more than 2.3 million people had slowed the virus, but had “not worked enough”, according to First Minister Mark Drakeford.
Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Wrexham were added to the list of restricted areas from 6pm on Thursday 1 October.
The i newsletter latest news and analysis
Neath Port Talbot, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan were all put under tighter restrictions on Monday 28 September, following Cardiff and Swansea.
In total 17 of Wales’ 22 local authority areas are now being made to follow stricter rules.
The first minister confirmed on Friday that all the local restrictions would remain in force across Wales “for at least another seven days”.
Which areas are under local lockdown in Wales?
There are 12 areas under local lockdown in the south of Wales, where Covid-19 has been spreading fastest.
- Blaenau Gwent
- Merthyr Tydfil
- Neath Port Talbot
- Rhondda Cynon Taf
- Vale of Glamorgan
Llanelli is the only area where the rules apply only to a town, rather than a wider county.
The city of Bangor in Gwynedd, then Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Wrexham have been placed under restrictions in north Wales.
Cardiff now has the highest case rate in Wales – 223.5 per 100,000 up to 12 October – involving 820 cases.
Merthyr Tydfil is second highest, recording 198.9 per 100,000, with 120 actual cases.
It also has 11.8 per cent positivity rate from test results.
Blaenau Gwent has continued to fall from a peak rate of 246.2 per 100,000 to 131.7 – with 92 cases in those past seven days.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We are now taking further action and placing three more areas under local restrictions in south Wales – Neath Port Talbot, Torfaen, and the Vale of Glamorgan – because we are seeing rising rates in these three areas. These areas also share borders with local authority areas where rates are much higher.
“Introducing restrictions in any parts of Wales is always an incredibly difficult decision for us to make. But we’re acting to protect people’s health and to try and break the chain of transmission and stop the situation from getting worse.
“This is not a regional lockdown – this is a series of local restrictions in each local authority area to respond to a specific rise in cases in each area, which have distinct and unique chains of transmission.”
What restrictions are in place?
A travel ban preventing people from areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus from entering Wales will come into force from 6pm on Friday, to stop the virus moving to more sparsely populated locations in Wales where levels of infection are currently low.
The restriction will prevent travel to Wales from areas in England in Tier 2 or 3, as well as the central belt of Scotland, the whole of Northern Ireland, and any other areas which are categorised as high prevalence in future.
The First Minister said he could not give a guaranteed date for the travel ban to end, saying it would “depend upon the way that events and circumstances unfold over the next couple of weeks”.
In addition, speaking at the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 press briefing on Friday afternoon, Mr Drakeford said introducing a circuit-break is the “the option that is most actively under consideration” for reducing levels of Covid-19.
Currently, no one should enter or leave any of the local lockdown areas, except for essential trips such as for work, education, to give care, or to buy food or medicine.
People are banned from meeting anyone from outside their household indoors.
Like in England, there is also a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.
Neath Port Talbot council leader Rob Jones said: “These restrictions are being imposed to protect public health, to protect you and your loved ones, and to stop people dying.
“Rates are much higher in local authority areas which border our county borough but we are now seeing rising rates here in Neath Port Talbot.
“We need the help of everyone across Neath Port Talbot to prevent the increasing spread of coronavirus and to bring the infection rates back down.”
— to inews.co.uk