The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020 place a series of restrictions on gatherings, the movement of people, and the operation of businesses, including closures. They require businesses, which are open to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. They are designed to protect people from the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
This week, Ministers have carried out the three-week review of the coronavirus regulations to ensure they remain proportionate to the public health risk posed by the virus.
Since the last weeks of August, we have seen sharp and rapid increase in the number of cases across Wales, starting in South East Wales but spreading to most parts of the country.
We have introduced a series of local restrictions to respond to these increases in local authority areas across Wales and we have also introduced some additional national measures, including the ending of alcohol sales after 10pm.
The deteriorating public health situation across Wales means we will not be making any major changes to the rules at a national level. The only very modest change is that skating rinks will be able to reopen from 3 October, as signalled at the last review.
We will however, change the local restrictions to ensure that single people living alone, including single parents, are not put at increased risk of loneliness or isolation, as a result of the introduction of local lockdowns in areas where there have been sharp and sudden increases in coronavirus.
The new rules, which will come into force tomorrow, will enable single adult households to temporarily join an extended household – or bubble – with another household in their local area, while local restrictions are in place.
This will enable single adult and single parent households to meet other people indoors during a local lockdown and hopefully reduce the emotional impact of local restrictions. The rule of six will apply to these single people bubbles.
Over the course next week, we will also be strengthening local authority powers to restrict drinking in public areas. This will help local authorities stop people gathering and drinking in certain areas where there is a risk of coronavirus being transmitted.
Local restrictions are now in place in 15 local authority areas and in Llanelli. A weekly review of these restrictions is required in the regulations. This week was the second review and we have concluded that it is too soon to lift restrictions in any of the local health protection areas.
It is encouraging that the incidence of coronavirus has continued to fall in Caerphilly borough over the last seven days, which is down to the efforts of people who live in the area. However, we need to see rates come down further before restrictions are relaxed. We will use the next seven days to work with Caerphilly County Borough Council and other local authorities, public health doctors, the police, and others, to agree a phased route out of these restrictions.
If we all continue to work together, we can protect ourselves and families and keep Wales safe.