What is a firebreak lockdown and will gyms and schools close in Wales today?

Lockdown begins on Friday 23 October at 6pm

Olivia Petter
Friday 23 October 2020 09:04
Comments
Firebreaker lockdown in Wales is a “short, sharp shock that will save people’s lives.mp4

On Monday 19 October,  the Welsh government announced it would be implementing a 17-day “firebreak” lockdown for Wales to combat the rising number of coronavirus infections in the country.

The short-term lockdown will begin at 6pm on Friday 23 October and end on Monday 9 November,  said Mark Drakeford, first minister of Wales. 

Mr Drakeford explained that the short-term lockdown is a “short, sharp shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and give us more time”. 

"The aim of the firebreak period is to get us through to Christmas," he added. "Beyond that, it simply wouldn't be sensible, given the speed at which things change... to be offering people guarantees of how the future may unfold."

Mr Drakeford insisted that the lockdown will end on 9 November, as promised, even though the benefits it would bring would not show up in the figures by that date.

“That is not the test to set. We know now that we will not see the benefit within the two weeks of the fire breaker period,” he told a press conference.

What is a firebreak lockdown and what does it mean?

The term “firebreak” has not been given an official explanation but is being used in the same way as “circuit breaker” to mean a short lockdown. 

A firebreak in the natural world is defined as a "strip of land in a wood or forest from which trees are removed to prevent a fire from spreading".

The Welsh lockdown will put further pressure on Boris Johnson to take tougher action in England.

Northern Ireland has also already implemented a “circuit breaker” lockdown.

The prime minister’s spokesman rejected a similar crackdown in England, saying he “continues to believe that targeted local action in areas of high prevalence of the virus is the correct course”. 

Read on to find out what the new firebreak lockdown in Wales means for schools, gyms, travel and restaurants.

Will schools in Wales close?

Drakeford has said that children are the Welsh government’s “top priority”.

With that in mind, primary schools and special educational needs schools will reopen as normal after half term, which ends on Friday 30 October.

However, secondary schools will remain shut for all but those in years seven and eight. Older children will be asked to study at home.

Universities and colleges will stay open and continue to provide a mix of in-person and online teaching to students.

Will gyms, pubs and restaurants in Wales close?

All indoor leisure centres and gyms will close for 17 days from Friday 23 October as part of the firebreak lockdown.

However, local parks, playgrounds and outdoor gyms will remain open.

The hospitality industry will also be forced to close for the duration of the firebreak lockdown.

This means that pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will not reopen until after the lockdown is over.

In total, more than 3,000 pubs will have to close.

The British Beer & Pub Association, the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has responded to the news by claiming that the lockdown could “destroy” Welsh pubs.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:  “This ‘firebreak’ in Wales will destroy many pubs, brewers and their supply chains in the country unless the financial support package is available to all businesses hit by the forced closure of all pubs."

Can I meet up with people outside of my household?

All indoor and outdoor gatherings with people you do not live with are banned under the new lockdown rules.

The only exception is for people who live alone, who can continue to join one other household and socialise with them in a bid to combat loneliness, in a support bubble structure.

Can I travel?

You can travel during the firebreak lockdown but only for a "reasonable" cause.

This could be anything from buying essential items, like food or medication, seeking medical help, getting tested for Covid-19, or delivering care to someone in need.

You may also travel for work purposes if you are a key worker, or if you have a job that means you cannot work from home.

It is against the law to travel for holiday purposes.

What are the penalties for breaking the rules?

Those who break the rules could face a fine of £60.

This fee will rise to £120 for a second offence.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in