Two Week ‘Firebreak’ Lockdown for Wales

These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Lockdown Wales

A two-week national ‘firebreak’ aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 will be imposed in Wales.

Everybody in Wales will be required to stay at home from 6pm on Friday 23 October until Monday 9 November, the Welsh Government announced.

People deemed critical workers, and those who were unable to work from home would be exempted.

As widely anticipated, non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, leisure businesses, community centres, libraries, and recycling centres will close.

Gatherings for Halloween and Bonfire Night will not be allowed, but there will be some exemptions for limited Remembrance commemorations.

Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, described the lockdown as “a time-limited firebreak” and a “short, sharp shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus, and give us more time”.

Mr Drakeford, who met with Government colleagues this morning, said that critical care units in Wales were already full.

He warned that the number of people being taken to hospital with coronavirus symptoms was growing every day and that, without tough action, there was “a very real risk that our NHS would be overwhelmed”.

He told a news conference: “Unless we act, the NHS will not be able to look after the increasing number of people who are falling seriously ill.”

The start of the Welsh firebreak lockdown has been timed to coincide with the beginning of the half-term break for schoolchildren. However, some children will be allowed to return to class after the holiday period ends.

The restrictions mean that:

  • Childcare facilities will remain open

  • Primary schools will reopen after half-term

  • Secondary schools will reopen, but only for children in years 7 and 8, and those taking exams

  • Children in other school years will continue their learning from home

University students would be required to stay at home in their accommodation and continue their education through a blend of online and in-person learning.

Mr Drakeford said that during the two-week lockdown, people would be banned from gathering with people not in their household, either indoors or outdoors.

However, exceptions would made for adults living alone, and single parents, who would continue to be able to join with one other household for support.

Places of worship would be closed, other than for funerals and weddings.

The Welsh Government said that it would announce a package of financial measures to help individuals and businesses affected by the lockdown. It would include an economic resilience fund of nearly £300 million.

Convalescent Plasma

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) appealed for more people who have had COVID-19 to donate their blood plasma at 14 new donation centres in England for use in treatment trials for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The NHS trials of convalescent plasma are the largest randomised controlled trials for this “promising” treatment for COVID-19.

NHSBT already collects plasma in its 23 permanent blood donor centres and in five pop-up plasma centres.

It said donations were urgently needed to ensure that if the trial

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