Three more areas, including Cardiff, go into lockdown this weekend – and this is exactly what you can and cannot do when it happens.
With coronavirus infection rates climbing across Wales, it was announced on Friday that two of Wales’ big city-council areas would go into lockdown at 6pm on Sunday. One county has seen a huge rise in infection rates, which is now far ahead of any other in Wales.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething urged people from Cardiff and Swansea not to “treat this weekend as a final blow-out”, however, as he unveiled a raft of new measures for the areas going into lockdown during a press conference.
A different approach is being taken in Llanelli, with a localised lockdown in place from 6pm on Saturday. When the latest measures come into force this weekend, 1.5 million people – around half of the entire population of Wales – will be in lockdown.
With the advice changing regularly it can be difficult to keep up. Here are your questions about what you can and cannot do answered in detail.
What the rules say
The new rules mean that people in all of the areas subject to the new measures:
- Must wear a face covering in shops if they are aged over 11.
- Can no longer meet with people from other households indoors. Extended households will not be allowed and overnight stays will be banned.
- Cannot enter or leave the borough council area without a “reasonable excuse”. This includes work, if people are unable to work from home, as well as making a compassionate visit to a loved one or to provide care.
- Can only meet others outdoors.
Where does each lockdown area cover?
The restrictions cover the Cardiff and Swansea council areas. Llanelli is subject to a localised lockdown that does not cover the rest of the Carmarthenshire County Council area, at present.
The wards covered by the lockdown in Llanelli can be found here.
If you are not sure which local authority area you are in this online tool will help you.
The Welsh Government said a postcode checker would be available on its website together with full details about the restrictions soon.
Does this mean I can’t leave the area at all?
If you live in one of the areas under enhanced lockdown restrictions you must not enter or leave without a “reasonable excuse”.
If you cannot work from home, then “for work” is considered an acceptable reason for entering or leaving an area in lockdown.
Using public services that are not available locally could also be a valid reason for travel, according to Welsh Government guidance. Visiting friends or family for compassionate reasons is also acceptable.
According to Welsh Government guidance: “You do not have a reasonable excuse to leave the area to do something if you could be reasonably expected to be able to do it within the area. This also works the other way around. Those living outside the area should not enter it if at all possible.”
I am not a resident of an area affected by lockdown, do I need to leave urgently?
If you do not have a “reasonable excuse” to stay in the area, you should leave as soon as you are able.
However, those with a valid reason to be in an area in lockdown, for example if there on compassionate grounds, should follow the local restrictions an limit contact with others as much as possible.
Can I be fined if I travel outside the area without a valid excuse?
Yes, the restrictions are being enforced by local authority environmental health officers and the police.
Police can give you a fixed penalty notice and it is possible you could be prosecuted and fined by the courts as well.
In addition, there are powers to take steps to disperse gatherings, require people to go home and enter property.
Guidance on the legislation and law surrounding coronavirus restrictions in Wales can be found here.
What is a reasonable excuse?
The definition of what counts as a “reasonable excuse” varies depending on the situation, and there is more detail on what counts as a “reasonable excuse” here.
What are the financial penalties for breaking the rules?
A fixed penalty of £60 is available for most breaches of coronavirus regulations.
This doubles to £120 for a second offence and continues to double for each further offence up to a maximum penalty of £1,920.
If prosecuted, however, a court can impose an unlimited fine.
Can I see friends and family who live outside of the lockdown areas?
The general rule is no, you cannot. However, there are exceptions such as if you need to provide care to an older person or a vulnerable adult.
Welsh Government guidance stated: “You should consider whether there are alternative sources of support available and we strongly recommend that you do not visit more than one person outside the area.”
You can also leave the area to visit someone on compassionate grounds.
Can I continue to “bubble” with my extended household?
No, you can no longer “bubble” even if the household is within the same lockdown area as you.
However, gatherings with members of any other household can take place outdoors, subject to the regulations on maximum group size.
I share parenting of my child/children with another person, can they visit us both?
Yes, if you share parental responsibility with another person you can “continue existing arrangements,” according to Welsh Government guidance.
This includes the ability to leave the area if necessary and is considered a “reasonable excuse” to travel.
If you are showing symptoms or self-isolating, your children should not visit you.
I am a grandparent and provide childcare for my grandchildren, can I keep doing so?
Yes, but only when no other methods of childcare are available. Also, it is worth remembering that adults should not enter any household other than their own.
If a child is ill, they should not be cared for outside their own home.
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What counts as a visit on “compassionate grounds”?
Someone who is struggling as a result of lockdown can be visited for compassionate reasons.
For example, they may have a physical or mental illness, have suffered a bereavement or there may be concerns for their wellbeing or welfare. On these grounds, you may have reason to visit them.
In some circumstances, visits to care homes may be permitted for exceptional reasons such as end of life, but this should be discussed with the care home. Routine visits to care homes remain suspended.
I’ve booked a holiday abroad in the coming weeks – can I still go?
This will be disappointing for many, but no you cannot. Travelling out of an area in local lockdown for a holiday is not considered a reasonable reason for travel.
If you have pre-booked or paid for a holiday the advice is to contact the travel agent or travel company as well as your travel insurer to discuss the situation.
I’m currently on holiday away from the lockdown area I live in – do I have to return immediately?
The official guidance states: “If you have already been away from the local area for some time, and are able to stay away, we consider it is reasonable for you to do so.
“We are also not advising people to curtail holidays where doing so will cause difficulties.”
However, people who left a lockdown area shortly before the measures were announced or put in place should be “aware they post a higher risk of transmitting the virus” and should, ideally, return home a soon as possible.
Can I travel to an airport to pick up a member of my household or family who is returning to Wales?
Yes. If someone is returning to Wales from outside the UK, they will need to follow the guidance on how to self-isolate after returning from abroad.
This guidance applies both to people arriving directly in Wales and for those arriving elsewhere in the UK and then travelling on to Wales.
It is best to avoid sharing a car with another person you do not live with. If you do share a car, please stay as far apart as possible within the car and keep windows open. You can follow this guidance on travelling safely.
Can I still see people outdoors?
You can meet with up to 30 people outdoors as long as you socially-distance with those from other households and they are from within the same lockdown area.
You can also meet people in your garden and they can go through your home to reach the garden if necessary.
Are schools staying open and has anything changed?
Schools remain open for the time being and this remains the “top priority” of the Welsh Government.
If your child goes to a school or college outside of the lockdown area, you can still take them there.
Each educational establishment will assess the need for students to wear face coverings but all secondary age pupils need to wear a face covering on public or school transport.
Can I travel to university?
If it is not possible to complete your studies remotely you can travel to university to access your education.
According to Welsh Government guidance: “If you have already travelled to university from the Cardiff Council area, you may attend educational settings to access elements of your course that cannot be accessed remotely, but you should otherwise act as if you were in the Cardiff Council area.”
How do the changes affect my childcare?
Childcare providers remain open. If you use a childcare setting outside of the lockdown area you can continue to take your child there, and conversely you can travel into a lockdown area to use your usual provider.
Childminders who care for children in their own homes can continue to operate also, but should ensure they are following the Protective Measures in Childcare Settings guidance.
This also applies to full and sessional day care providers and breakfast and after school clubs.
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I rely on members of my extended household to provide childcare, can they still do this?
Yes. Although extended households can no longer meet indoors and adults should not go inside a home that isn’t their own, this form of childcare can still be used where no other options are available.
Can I still go to work if I can’t work from home?
If you live in a lockdown area and are able to work from home, you should do so. However, if you cannot reasonably do your work from home, you can continue to travel to your workplace – regardless if it is within or outside the area in lockdown.
People from outside a lockdown area can travel there for work purposes, unless they can do that work from home.
My employer wants me to go back to the office/workplace, do I have to?
Legally, people can only travel to work if it is not “reasonably practicable” for them to work from home.
Employers should take all possible steps to allow their employees to work from home, including providing suitable IT equipment.
Employers also have a separate legal duty to take reasonable steps to ensure their employees are not exposed to risks to their health.
Details can be found in the Keep Wales Safe guidance.
Can a tradesperson come to my home to do work?
Yes, work can continue to be carried out on people’s homes. The advice is that social-distancing guidelines should be followed and that both the homeowner and tradesperson should be symptom-free and not self-isolating.
The advice states that unless it is to repair a fault that poses an immediate risk to safety, no work should be carried out at the home of someone who is isolating or is considered extremely vulnerable.
I have caring responsibilities within a lockdown area – can I still provide them?
Yes you can, regardless of whether you live in the area or not. People providing essential care or support, such as delivering shopping to a vulnerable person can continue to visit while observing social-distancing and hygiene measures.
Carers can continue to make visits also. The visits may be subject to a risk assessment and it may be necessary for the carer to wear PPE as well as observing social distancing.
I have a medical appointment outside of the lockdown area, do I have to cancel it?
If the appointment is non-urgent, the advice is to postpone it for now if possible.
However, where you need medical assistance you can travel to wherever is necessary for you to receive it.
You should not stop along the way if possible. This advice also applies to people from outside a lockdown area travelling in for a medical appointment.
Can I visit someone in hospital?
Official guidance states: “Indoor visits to hospitals should be limited to protect the most vulnerable”.
Visits to hospitals in affected areas, and by residents living in affected areas to other hospitals, is restricted to essential visits only. Visits are limited to:
- A birth partner during childbirth
- For a person receiving end-of-life care
- Supporting someone with a mental health issue such as dementia, a learning disability or autism where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed
- Accompanying a child in hospital
Always check the latest guidance with your hospital or health board before visiting.
Can I use public transport?
If you need to, yes you can, but you must wear a face covering.
Can I travel through a lockdown area to reach another destination?
If you have to travel along a road that passes through the area and you have no other reasonable option to travel to your destination, then this is allowed.
Will shops still be open?
All shops can remain open but you should not normally leave an area in lockdown to go shopping and must always wear a face covering in shops.
You are able to get essential goods from outside your local area if you can’t reasonably be expected to do this within the area or get them delivered.
Travelling outside a council area that is in lockdown to go to a clothes shop, for example, is not allowed.
I live just outside an area in lockdown but the nearest shops and other facilities to me are inside the area – can I still use them?
If you are buying essential items and there is no reasonable alternative to using shops within the area in lockdown, you can do so.
However, in most cases people are expected to have alternative options available, even if this involves travelling a bit further than they would normally.
Can I still go to restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs?
Yes, but only with people in your household. It is a criminal offence to meet someone from outside your household in these settings.
Are hairdressers and beauty salons still allowed to operate?
Yes, although you must wear a face covering and only go to businesses in your local area.
Can I continue to attend my place of worship?
As long as it is within the lockdown area you live in, yes. Also, you cannot travel to a service with anyone you do not live with and must observe social distancing and hygiene measures, and wear a face covering.
Can my wedding still take place?
Yes. Marriages, civil partnership ceremonies and small receptions can still take place. However, guests from outside a lockdown area cannot attend the reception.
Those living in a lockdown area can leave it to attend a wedding ceremony, but not to go to a reception.
Can I go to a funeral?
Yes. However, you should wear a face covering especially when indoors and if social distancing cannot be observed.
Those living in a lockdown area can attend a funeral and a small wake in that area, and can leave the area to attend a funeral but not the wake.
Similarly, people from outside an area in lockdown can attend a funeral but not the wake.
Can sport, leisure and recreation facilities remain open?
Gyms, swimming pools etc can keep operating but the usual measures must be followed for indoor activities and sporting activities indoor and outdoors must not exceed 30 people.
Can I keep playing sport and exercising with others?
You can only play sport or exercise with others from within the local authority area as long as you maintain social distancing, all reasonable steps are taken to minimise risk, and only do so in groups or classes of up to 30 people.
Can I travel to and from the area to take part in sport?
No, only if you are a professional sportsperson or an elite athlete. Travelling to and from the area for amateur sport activities is not allowed.
Can I go cycling with my friends?
Cycling is allowed but you must cycle within the boundary of the lockdown area.
Cycling in groups larger than 30 people is not allowed, regardless of whether social distancing practices are followed.