Wales’ ‘fire-break’ lockdown confirmed

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

How long will restaurants and pubs in Wales be closed for?

Related tags Wales Coronavirus Mark Drakeford

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has ordered hospitality businesses to close for two weeks to ‘break the rapidly increasing spread of Coronavirus’ in Wales.

Under the new rules - which will come into force from this Friday (23 October) and run until 9 November - non-essential retail, gyms and leisure centres must also close and people must stay at home unless they are critical workers or do a job where working from home is ‘simply not possible’.

The rules will be comparable to the UK-wide national lockdown in March, with hospitality businesses still able to offer takeout and delivery.

Wales has set up a £300m economic resilience fund to help businesses hit by the lockdown. Small firms in retail, leisure and hospitality which have to close will get a one off payment of up to £5,000 and every firm covered by small business rates relief will get £1,000.

Reacting to the news, UKHospitality Cymru executive director for Wales David Chapman said that even a short lockdown would be a "severe blow to Welsh hospitality and tourism".

"If it has to happen, though, it is very encouraging to see the First Minister single out hospitality for support," he says. "The package announced today is welcome, positive and shows that the Welsh Government is listening to us.

“It is vital now that we get some further advice on how the Economic Resilience Fund will be applied, how businesses over £51,000 rateable value will be additionally helped and how the support announced by the First Minister is applied without delay to keep businesses alive and avoid further job losses." 

"Once the firebreak is complete, we then need to see some really innovative thinking around how Welsh Government continues to support the sector and that must include a second look at current restrictions around opening hours. Hospitality is part of the solution, not the problem, to keeping COVID-19 at bay."

"We can lead on safe socialising, helping make sure people across Wales can meet friends and family safely in a licensed, protected environment."

Drakeford said it had been a “difficult decision” for his government. 

“The fire-break is the shortest we can make it, but that means it will have to be sharp and deep to have the maximum impact on the virus,” he said.

Primary schools will re-open after the half-term but secondary schools will only be open for children in years seven and eight over the fire-break period.

“We all want to see an end to this pandemic and our lives returned to us, Drakeford continues. “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.”

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