Wales is to impose a “firebreak” lockdown for 17 days from 6pm on Friday October23, the Welsh government has announced.
This new lockdown measure will take Wales back to the restrictions introduced in March, with most businesses closing, and people being told to stay at home and work from home where possible.
The measures include:
- Non-essential retail, hospitality businesses to include leisure, pubs bars restaurants and to close
- People told to work from home wherever possible, with exceptions for critical workers
- Household mixing banned both indoors and outdoors, although those in social bubbles will still be able to meet
- Primary schools open after the half-term week and secondary schools will open only to Year 7 and Year 8 pupils
- Places of worship to be closed except for weddings and funerals
- The circuit break will last until Monday 9 November
To support businesses affected by the Covid restrictions during this two-week period, small and medium leisure and hospitality businesses that are forced to close will be automatically given a one-off payment of up to £5,000.
Every business covered by the small business rate relief will get a £1,000 payment, with a further discretionary grant for smaller businesses who are under pressure because of the restrictions will also be available.
The government previously announced that it was making an extra £80m available to help businesses deal with the challenges of coronavirus, which will be increased to £100m, and £20m of this will be ringfenced for tourism and hospitality businesses.
First minister Mark Drakeford said applications for financial aid will open in the first week of the lockdown and will be allocated “as quickly as we can”.
CAMRA Director for Wales Chris Charters said:
“Our pubs, breweries and cider-makers are still trying to recover from the first lockdown, and have been operating at reduced trade for months and have invested thousands of pounds of their dwindling reserves to make their premises COVID-secure.
“This announcement of a two-week closure is absolutely devastating news and is a real make or break moment for Welsh beer, cider and pubs.
“Whilst grants from the Welsh Government are welcome and necessary, many fear that they won’t be enough to pay for both fixed costs and their staff wages as the UK Government’s jobs support scheme doesn’t kick in until next month.
“The Welsh and UK Governments urgently need to work together to bring forward a comprehensive financial support package to cover this fire-breaker period – and the weeks and months following it to allow businesses to get back on their feet.
“Without proper compensation we risk seeing pubs, breweries and cider producers closing for good before Christmas.”