News Coronavirus ‘Fire-break’ lockdown for Wales, harsh rules in Ireland as COVID cases surge

‘Fire-break’ lockdown for Wales, harsh rules in Ireland as COVID cases surge

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Wales has broken away from the British government to impose a two-week “fire-break” lockdown in which everybody apart from essential workers must stay at home as a second wave of COVID-19 accelerates.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said he understood that people were tired of coronavirus restrictions but tougher rules were essential as critical care units were already full.

“It will have to be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need,” Mr Drakeford said.

“Everyone in Wales will be required to stay at home.”

“If we do not act now, it will continue to accelerate.”

The lockdown will begin on Friday at 5pm (local time) and end on November 9.

Everybody but essential workers will have to work from home.

wales lockdown covid
Most businesses will close and only essential work will continue under the Welsh lockdown. Photo: Getty

All non-essential retail, leisure, hospitality and tourist businesses will have to close in Wales, as will places of worship.

Most children apart from some older students will return to school in the second week after the half-term holiday.

Business affected will be supported by a £300 million ($A549 million) fund, Mr Drakeford said.

The Welsh government’s decision comes after the United Kingdom had 16,982 new daily cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours, according to government data issued on Sunday, up from 16,717 the previous day.

Wales had 950 of those cases, up from just 400 at the start of October.

All four nations of the United Kingdom are recording a resurgence of COVID-19, and devolved governments and local councils are introducing a range of measures to try to stem the rise.

Northern Ireland started a four-week period of tougher curbs on Friday, while Scotland has imposed new rules for hospitality.

Elsewhere, Ireland has moved to level-five restrictions amid concern at its rising rate of COVID-19 infections.

Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced six weeks of the new measures, the strictest under the country’s coronavirus plan, on Monday after the country’s National Public Health Emergency Team reported 1031 new cases of COVID-19.

The 14-day incidence rate for the country is at 261.7 per 100,000 people.

Under restrictions to take effect midnight on Wednesday (local time), people will not be allowed to go further than five kilometres from home and all non-essential workers will be expected to work from home.

Non-essential retail and leisure facilities such as gyms will close, while pubs and restaurants will be limited to takeaway service only.

Schools and childcare services are to remain open.

There was controversy two weeks ago when the government rejected advice to impose level-five restrictions.

Instead, less strict level-three measures were imposed but did not slow the rapid rise in coronavirus cases.

There have been 1852 coronavirus-related deaths in Ireland and a total 50,993 cases.

-with AAP