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I welcome this difficult yet decisive move from our Welsh Labour Government. It is with a heavy heart that the First Minister has asked everyone to stay at home and for businesses to shut, but this is acting now to save lives and livelihoods later.
With much of Wales already under local restrictions, more robust measures need to be taken in order to turn back the tide on this virus. This fire break – a short, sharp intervention – would help reduce the R number and bring the virus under control. It will help reduce the strain on our NHS through this second wave and provide certainty for businesses struggling under local lockdown.
Unlike what is happening in parts of England where little or no extra financial support is being given, the Welsh Labour Government is providing an extra £300 million to support businesses through this difficult time. This will be through a mixture of automatic and discretionary grants and payments to help them through this difficult period. Businesses need certainty and this move will help break the cycle now, rather than have enforced closures in the run up to and during Christmas during their most lucrative period.
This crisis has taken an enormous toll on our wellbeing and mental health, on businesses and livelihoods. I recognise that this fire break requires a further significant sacrifice across Wales but we must pull together to put us on the right track heading into Christmas with our loved ones.
– Fire break will be implemented from Friday 23rd October at 6pm to 9th November.
– No gatherings with people you do not live with either indoors or outdoors. There will be an exception for adults living alone and single parents who will be able to join with one other household for support.
– Everyone in Wales will be required to stay at home and work from home with the exception of critical workers and where working from home is not possible.
– All non-essential retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses will close.
– Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will close.
– Places of worship will be closed except for funerals or wedding ceremonies.
– Childcare will stay open.
– Primary and special schools will re-open as normal after half term.
– Secondary schools will re-open after half-term for children in Yr 7 and 8.
– Pupils will be able to come in and take exams but other pupils will continue learning from home for an extra week.
– An Economic Resilience Fund of almost £300m.
– Every business covered by the small business rates relief will get a £1,000 payment.
– Small and medium-sized retail, leisure and hospitality businesses which have to close will receive a one-off payment of up to £5,000.
– Additional discretionary grants and support for smaller businesses, which are struggling.
– £80m fund announced last week to help businesses’ long-term development will be increased to £100m, which includes £20m ring-fenced for tourism and hospitality.
– All businesses required to close will also be able to access the support available from the UK Government – through the existing Job Retention Scheme or the new expanded Job Support Scheme.
Businesses will need support quickly. The funds will open in the first week of the fire-break and Welsh Government will work to get the money allocated as quickly as possible.
I will share any additional information as soon as it’s available. We are here for anyone who needs support and advice during this difficult time.