Just as we let ourselves believe there was a semblance of normality returning to our lives here in South Wales, Caerphilly goes into lockdown and it looks like they’ll stay that way till October, at the very least.
We’re talking 180,000 people affected by this and the restrictions will be tough following a spike of 133 new cases in the past seven days.
The following restrictions will come into effect at 6pm today…………
- No one will be allowed to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse
- Everyone over the age of 11 will now be required to wear face coverings in shops
- Meetings with other people indoors and extended households not to be allowed
Wales’s health minister said today that ‘meetings with other people indoors and extended households will not be allowed, while overnight stays have also been banned. For the first time in Wales, the wearing of face masks will be mandatory in Caerphilly.
Community testing was introduced in Caerphilly over the weekend, with 450 people tested on Saturday. Of these, 19 had the virus. Results are expected to show a similar number from those tested on Sunday.
To put the figures into some sort of perspective, the 133 new Covid-19 cases over the past seven days, is equivalent to a rate of 55.4 cases per 100,000 – the highest rate in Wales and one of the highest in the UK.
Travel restrictions included in the lockdown mean people cannot enter or leave Caerphilly County Borough Council area without a ‘reasonable excuse’.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething told Radio Wales the rate is……..
‘Expected to rise after community testing on Saturday showed a positivity rate of 4 per cent. Even a week ago, we comfortably had the lowest rate of coronavirus of any of the UK nations.
We’re now in a position, a week later, where we’ve seen a significant spike in activity. That shows that coronavirus, over the course of a couple of weeks, can build up very quickly.‘
‘If we don’t address the issue in Caerphilly, we’ll see wider community transmission within the Caerphilly area, but that will spread to other areas as well. The reasons for the local lockdown are a spike in transmission that, if left unaddressed, will go out of control.
We’ll see more people get it, we’ll see more people go into hospitals, being seriously unwell, and it will then have national consequences.’
Mr Gething continued……
‘A significant cause of the virus spreading was social distancing breaking down, with people socialising in each other’s households in larger numbers.’
He said that pubs and bars would remain open in the Caerphilly area, as significant transmission is not taking place there. The lockdown measures, which are being enforced by the local authority and police, will be reviewed every couple of weeks.
‘But the evidence and advice that I’ve had from our scientific and medical advisers is that we’re unlikely to see a significant change until two to three weeks, to see the impact these measures are having.’
‘So we’re in it for several weeks, at least in Caerphilly.’
When he was asked ifthat meant the local lockdown would remain in the area until October, Mr Gething said…..
‘Yes, at the very least – I can’t overstate the seriousness of the position that we’re in.’
The UK’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned us all that we must take the virus very seriously again or we’ll face ‘a bumpy ride over the next few months.
‘The public have relaxed too much’ over the summer and described the rising number of cases as of ‘great concern.
We’ve been able to relax a bit over the summer, the disease levels have been really quite low in the UK through the summer but these latest figures really show us that much as people might like to say ‘oh well it’s gone away’ – this hasn’t gone away.
And if we’re not careful, if we don’t take this incredibly seriously from this point in we’re going to have a bumpy ride over the next few months.’
‘The rise is ‘much more marked’ in the 17-21 age group, but there is a more general and creeping geographic trend across the UK.’
Caerphilly Council has already introduced measures such as suspending care home visits, and introducing weekly testing for care home staff.
Numerous schools have been affected by coronavirus since the start of the autumn term, including one class of 21 pupils at a primary school in the Caerphilly area being told to self-isolate for 14 days.
People will only be allowed to meet others outdoors, with indoor meetings and gatherings restricted.
We hear the phrase LOCAL LOCKDOWN a lot, more than we’d really like to, but what does it actually mean?
If an area is subject to a ‘local lockdown’, it simply means that new rules and restrictions have been put in place for just that localised city, town or region in order to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. While the rest of the UK continues to follow the Government’s guidance on social distancing, those who live in areas of local lockdown may find that they are temporarily unable to visit friends and family, travel outside of their local area, or use certain local amenities.
Businesses, such as pubs, bars, non-essential shops and services, in areas subject to local lockdowns may be told they have to close again until the restrictions have been lifted.
The Government says of local lockdowns……
‘We are now able to better identify outbreaks at an early stage and take steps to ensure appropriate local intervention. Local outbreaks are identified and managed through continuous monitoring of the available data and different approaches are required according to local circumstances.’
This means not every local lockdown will be the same. As in the case of Caerphilly, rules and restrictions will be imposed that will differ from other areas.