Wales will introduce a coronavirus ‘firebreak’ lockdown with a £300 million support package available to affected businesses.
First Minister, Mark Drakeford, announced that Wales is to go into a ‘firebreak’ lockdown from 6pm on Friday 23rd October until Monday 9th November. This move is in reaction to rising Covid-19 case numbers and hospital admissions in Wales and will attempt to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.
There were 4,127 confirmed new cases of coronavirus recorded by Public Health Wales between October 9th and 15th. These figures were based on positive test results with the real level of infections much higher. The R number is currently between 1.1 and 1.4. Therefore, continued exponential growth in the number of cases and the seven-day rolling incidence rate for Wales stands at more than 130 cases per 100,000 head of population.
List of Measures
The measures introduced mean that:
- Everyone must stay at home, except for very limited purposes.
- You must work from home wherever possible.
- People must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with indoors or outdoors. Adults living alone or single parents will be able to join with one other household for support.
- No gatherings can take place outdoors, such as Halloween, fireworks/Bonfire night or other organised activities.
- All non-food retail, hospitality businesses, including cafes, restaurants and pubs (unless they provide takeaway or delivery services); close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians; and events and tourism businesses, such as hotels must close.
- Community centres, libraries and recycling centres have to close.
- Face coverings are mandatory in indoor public spaces which remain open, including on public transport and in taxis.
A new £300m fund, which will open next week, will be available to businesses affected by the firebreak. Support will see:
- Every business covered by the small business rates relief will receive a £1,000 payment.
- Small and medium-sized retail, leisure and hospitality businesses which have to close will receive a one-off payment of up to £5,000.
- There will also be additional discretionary grants and support for smaller businesses which are struggling.
- The £80m fund announced last week to help businesses develop in the longer term will be increased to £100m. This fund will include £20m ring-fenced for tourism and hospitality.
Welsh Government Help
Businesses will also be able to access the support available through the existing Job Retention Scheme or the new expanded Job Support Scheme.
In conclusion, the First Minister has written to the Chancellor to ask him to give Welsh businesses early access to the new expanded Job Support Scheme from Friday. The Welsh Government has offered to pay the extra costs to the UK Government scheme to ensure businesses can retain staff.
The Welsh Government has produced a very easy-to-read Q&A document that businesses may find useful.
More important information on how the coronavirus restrictions are affecting NE Wales is available on our website here.