Second county in Wales to go into lockdown

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A second county in Wales will go into lockdown because of the rate of coronavirus cases.

The 240,000 people living in Rhondda Cynon Taff will have restrictions imposed on their daily lives.

From 18:00 BST on Thursday, people will not be able to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education.

All licensed pubs, bars and restaurants will have to shut at 23:00 every day, once the lockdown comes into effect.

Rules allowing people to meet others from their extended households indoors will be suspended in the county.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said there had been a “rapid” rise in cases, with 82.1 infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

It is the second local lockdown in Wales, after Caerphilly was subject to restrictions last week.

Wednesday’s rate of positive tests for the past week in RCT was 5.1% – the highest in Wales. Mr Gething previously warned a positive rate of 4% across Wales would trigger a national lockdown. The Wales average is 2.4%.

Figures on Wednesday showed RCT’s case rate had almost caught up with Caerphilly, which had 83.4 per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

The lockdown restrictions have been imposed despite people in RCT having been asked to take extra precautions last week.

Contact tracing teams have been able to trace about half of the coronavirus cases in RCT “back to a series of clusters within the borough”, Mr Gething told a press conference.

One cluster is associated with a rugby club and a pub in the lower Rhondda valley, another is connected to a club outing to the Doncaster races, which Mr Gething said stopped off at a series of pubs on the way.

Under the lockdown rules, no one will be able to leave or enter the county without a reasonable excuse.

The rules can be enforced by a system of fixed penalty notices, which start at £60 to a maximum of £1,920, or unlimited fines in the courts.

Rules allowing people to meet six people from their extended household in Wales will also not apply in RCT.

Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant said: “Now we need to stick to the rules and get the transmission rate down to protect the NHS and the most vulnerable.”

Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru Rhondda Member of the Senedd (MS), said it was “disappointing, but not a surprise”.

“The sooner we get this under control, the sooner we can ease restrictions and the safer our loved ones will be,” she added.

Pontypridd MP Alex Davies-Jones said: “I know the news of tighter coronavirus restrictions will be worrying for people across Ponty, but I am confident that this is the right approach in order to reduce the number of cases locally.”

The difference in rules around pubs in RCT and Caerphilly prompted questions from the Welsh Conservative health spokesman Andrew RT Davies.

“The health minister must explain the rationale behind this and give guidance across Wales to prevent other lockdowns.”

Mr Gething said pubs were a “factor in transmission” in RCT, but had not been in Caerphilly.

He said a series of bars and pubs have faced closures and improvement notices in the area.

A bar has been shut in Pontypridd after a series of breaches were captured on CCTV, a licensed premise was closed in Tonypandy and improvement notices for another bar in Pontypridd and a barbers in Tonypandy were also issued.

A further 50 licensed premises were visited by council officers over the weekend, Mr Gething said.

Asked why he was not closing all pubs, Mr Gething said: “If there are no opportunities to drink in licenced premises we may see more people breaking the rules and drinking in each other’s homes.”



SOURCE: https://www.w24news.com/news/second-county-in-wales-to-go-into-lockdown/?remotepost=279629

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