Wales’ second local lockdown to be imposed in Rhondda Cynon Taf
Wales’ second local lockdown is to come into force in the Rhondda Cynon Taf after tomorrow, with a curfew being imposed on all licensed premises for the first time.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething made the announcement at this afternoon’s Welsh Government briefing.
He said it comes as a result of a “sharp increase in cases of the virus.”
Figures released by Public Health Wales (PHW) show that 52 positive tests have been recorded in the last 24 hours.
Under the new restrictions, which come into force from 6pm on Thursday, people will not be allowed to enter or leave the Rhondda Cynon Taf Council area without a reasonable excuse and everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public areas – as is the case across Wales.
People will only be able to meet outdoors for the time being and people will not be able to meet members of their extended household indoors or form an extended household.
For the first time in Wales there will also be an 11pm closure time imposed on licensed premises in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area.
Mr Gething said the restrictions are being introduced following a rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in coronavirus, which have been linked to people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from summer holidays overseas.
They will be kept under regular review but if cases do not fall, the Welsh Government, working with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Public Health Wales, will consider further measures.
Speaking today the minister said that there is community transmission in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area and two significant clusters.
These are linked to a rugby club and a pub in the lower Rhondda and a club outing to the Doncaster races, which stopped off in a series of pubs on the way.
Mr Gething said: “We have seen a rapid rise in cases in Rhondda Cynon Taf in a very short space of time, linked to people socialising indoors and not following social distancing guidelines.
“We now have evidence of wider community transmission in the borough, which means we need to take urgent action to control and, ultimately, reduce the spread of the virus and protect people’s health.
“We need the help of everyone across Wales to prevent the increasing and onward spread of coronavirus. We can bring coronavirus under control if everyone pulls together and follows the rules we have put in place. They are there to protect you, your family, and your community.
“Coronavirus has not gone away. It is still circulating in communities across Wales. It’s vital people stick to the rules.”
This is the second local lockdown to be introduced in Wales, with the first in Caerphilly earlier this month. However Mr Gething said cases are starting to “level off” after measures were brought in.
Asked if there was evidence of coronavirus cases spreading in pubs in Rhondda Cynon Taf and why they weren’t being closed altogether if that was the case, Mr Gething said the impact of doing so needs to be considered.
He said: “There is evidence that pubs are a factor in transmission in Rhondda Cynon Taf in a way that we didn’t have evidence for that within Caerphilly, and you’ll see this in other parts of the UK too.
“We also need to consider that if we close all pubs, it isn’t just the economic impact of people losing businesses and jobs, but also there will be people who will carry on drinking. If there are no opportunities to drink in a licensed premises, we may see more people breaking the rules and drinking in each other’s homes.
“That’s a much more significant challenge for us in the spread of coronavirus.
“That’s also why of course, the extended household provisions are ending in Rhondda Cynon Taf for the time being, as well as in Caerphilly.”
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