Wales will enter a “fire break” lockdown for two weeks, requiring everyone to stay home in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Monday that beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, all non essential businesses, such as retail stores, restaurants and bars, will shut down until Nov. 9.
People will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons, such as to obtain necessary supplies and health services, exercise alone, access childcare and education, attend court and visit banks. The only exception will be made for essential workers and people with jobs that make it impossible to work from home.
Between Oct. 10 and 16, Public Health Wales confirmed 3,870 new cases of the coronavirus. More than 800 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, a number that is 20% higher than just a week ago.
Officials report more than 35,620 cases of the virus in Wales and more than 1,700 people have died.
The rate of infection is currently 1.4, and the seven-day rolling incidence rate for Wales stands at more than 120 cases per 100,000 population, according to the government.
“The aim of a fire break is to reset the clock,” Drakeford said.
Non essential travel within Wales and into and out of Wales will not be allowed during the two-week fire break. Additionally, people are not permitted to visit other households or meet with people they do not live with. Secondary schools, which will be on a break period, will remain closed for an additional week, though primary schools and child care centers will remain open.
Libraries, gyms and places of worship will also be closed.
Cartoons on the Coronavirus
Face coverings continue to be mandatory in indoor public spaces that remain open and on public transportation and in taxis.
If people violate the new rules, they could face a fine up to $78 on the first offense and up to $156 on the second.
“A fire break period is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much longer and much more damaging national lockdown,” Drakeford said. “This is the moment to come together, to play our part in a common endeavour.”