Rhondda Cynon Taff coronavirus lockdown: What are the rules?


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People are unable to enter or leave Rhondda Cynon Taff without good reason

Rhondda Cynon Taff has joined Caerphilly county under a local lockdown.

Rules are to be tightened from 18:00 BST on Thursday in Rhondda Cynon Taff where coronavirus cases have continued to rise.

For the 421,000 people in those areas who will be living under lockdown, it means a number of things have changed for the foreseeable future.

Here’s a guide to what you can and can’t do.

Can I leave or enter those areas?

Under the rules, nobody is able to enter or leave either county borough – which covers towns such as Caerphilly, Blackwood, Rhymney, Pontypridd, Aberdare and Treorchy – without a “reasonable excuse”.

There are a number of excuses listed in the law used to enforce the regulations.

These include travelling to work if you are not able to work from home, to go to school, or to give care.

You can travel to buy food and medical supplies, seek medical assistance or go to the vets, and move home.

Other reasons include:

  • Obtaining supplies for the essential upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household, or the household of a vulnerable person
  • Elite athletic training and competitions
  • To provide or receive emergency assistance
  • To meet a legal obligation, and to access or receive public services
  • To avoid injury or illness or escape a risk of harm

Otherwise, the borders are effectively closed. BBC Wales has been told the Welsh Government considers compassionate visits to a loved one as a reasonable excuse, although it is not listed in the legislation.

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People can leave if they cannot work from home, to give care, go to school or for essential shopping

Can I see friends and family?

Rules for meeting indoors have changed.

Friends and family can no longer meet indoors, while overnight stays are also be banned.

So extended households are unable to meet, essentially meaning you cannot enter anyone else’s home in the county.

Meeting people from outside your extended household indoors remains banned in the rest of Wales.

Can I go to the pub or out for dinner?

This is the significant difference between the two local lockdowns.

All licensed premises across Rhondda Cynon Taff will have to shut at 23:00 every day, once the lockdown comes into effect.

However pubs, bars and restaurants in Caerphilly are allowed to stay open,

So you can still go for a drink or a meal, but only with members of your immediate household.

Rules against meeting other people from outside your household indoors still apply in pubs and restaurants.

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Pubs must close at 23:00 in Rhondda Cynon Taff but can follow normal hours in Caerphilly county

Are schools staying open?

Yes. Schools, which have only just returned from the summer holidays, will stay open.

However, a number of schools across Wales have told pupils to isolate after positive tests, so any changes will be done on a case-by-case basis.

Do I need to wear a mask?

In shops, yes you have to.

People in Wales must wear face masks in shops, other indoor public spaces and public transport as coronavirus cases rise.

Residents of Rhondda Cynon Taff had already been asked by the council only to use public transport if “essential”.

In a joint statement, Rhondda Cynon Taff council, the local health board and police called for local residents to “take action now”.

Can you go on holiday?

No.

In a Facebook question and answer video, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said if residents have booked holidays already they should speak to their providers, explain it would be a breach of the law for them to attend, and seek a refund.

Officials would be in touch with package holiday providers and insurers “to explain to them the seriousness of the position and the risk to them and their business if people from Caerphilly were nevertheless to go on holiday”, he added.

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Students can still attend school and colleges

Can I go to a wedding or a funeral?

Yes, but with restrictions.

Marriages and civil partnerships can take still take place under the local lockdowns with small receptions, but guests from outside the area cannot attend the reception.

It is the same for funerals and wakes.

Those living in the boroughs can attend a wedding ceremony or funeral outside the area, but not a reception or a funeral wake.

How long will the lockdown last?

According to the health minister, until October at the earliest.

The lockdown measures in Rhondda Cynon Taff will be reviewed in two weeks, Wales’ health minister has said, although it is expected to take two or three weeks to see if they have had an impact.

Vaughan Gething said there were “cautious reasons” for optimism, based on how lockdown measures were working in Caerphilly county borough where there had been a “levelling off and a slight reduction in new cases”.

Caerphilly’s lockdown is due to be reviewed next week.

What about childcare?

Children whose parents do not live in the same home can continue to move between homes, whether inside or outside the affected area, the Welsh Government said.

It said parents can continue to rely on wider family for childcare while they are in work, but only when “no other methods are available”.

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Can I be fined if I break the rules?

Yes.

People who breach new laws could face fixed penalty notices of £60 for a first offence.

Penalties will double with every subsequent offence, to a maximum of £1,920. Fixed penalty notices are used as an alternative to prosecution – if a case reached the courts, fines could be unlimited.

The rules will be enforced by Caerphilly council and Gwent Police.

What have the police said?

A senior police officer said Gwent Police was not planning to introduce roadblocks or cordons during lockdown.

Ch Supt Mark Hobrough said neighbourhood officers would talk to motorists and visit shops and businesses to ensure everyone was aware of the new rules, with enforcement the “last objective”.

“We really do want the community to work with us in relation to this to be able to combat this infection and fight it off as soon as possible,” he said.

Where can I find more information?

The Welsh Government has published a Q&A page and a set of guidelines on its website.

The legislation can be found here.



BBC News