What do you mean by a “firebreak lockdown”?
A short, sharp firebreak has been introduced across Wales to help regain control of coronavirus. This means that a series of restrictive measures will be in place from 6pm Friday 23 October until 12:01am Monday 9 November 2020.
Why is this being done?
The fortnight-long action is needed to save lives and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.
Cases of coronavirus have been rising sharply in Wales as the virus has woken up for winter. While the national and local measures put in place across Wales have helped to keep that spread under check, there is a growing consensus that additional action is now needed.
Between October 9 and 15, there were 4,127 new confirmed cases of coronavirus recorded by Public Health Wales, based on positive test results but the real level of infections will be much higher. The number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms is growing daily and sadly so too are the number of people dying with coronavirus.
The R number is currently between 1.1 and 1.4, meaning continued exponential growth in the number of cases and the seven-day rolling incidence rate for Wales stands at more than 130 cases per 100,000 population.
What restrictions are in place?
There are 5 main things:
- people must stay at home, except for very limited purposes
- people must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with
- certain businesses and venues, including bars, restaurants and most shops must close
- secondary schools can provide learning online only for the week after half-term, other than for children in years seven and eight. Primary schools and childcare settings can remain open.
- face coverings continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that remain open (subject to certain exemptions and exceptions), including on public transport and in taxis
If you break these new laws:
- You may be told to go home or removed from where you are and returned home.
- You could have to pay a fixed penalty notice of £60. This will rise to £120 for the second breach,
- Or you could have criminal proceedings brought against you, and if found guilty, you will have to pay a fine.
Even where something may be allowed, we ask you not to think about whether it is permitted but whether it is truly necessary and sensible. The purpose of this short lockdown is to create a concerted national effort to do everything we can to stop the spread of coronavirus, and every individual contribution to that counts.
How long will these measures stay in place?
These measures will be in place from 6pm Friday 23 October until the start of Monday 9 November 2020.
What will happen after Monday 9 November?
Following the end of the firebreak, a new set of national rules will be introduced, covering how people can meet and how the public sector and businesses operate.
My area was subject to local restrictions – do these still apply?
No – the firebreak lockdown applies in the same way across Wales.
What are the rules on face coverings?
The rules on face coverings have not changed during the short lockdown period. Please visit our separate face coverings FAQs page.
Staying at home
When can I leave home?
You should only be outside of your home for very limited reasons, which include:
- the need to obtain supplies and services for you or your household, for example food, medicine, and essential household maintenance. We encourage everyone to make this as infrequently as possible
- to exercise, alone or with members of your household. We encourage this to be done locally.
- to access childcare and education
- to access medical services or other public services
- to deposit and withdraw money from a bank or similar establishment
- to provide care for or to help a vulnerable person; this includes getting food or medicines for them
- to help the NHS by donating blood
- for work purposes, or voluntary or charitable purposes, but only where it is not reasonably practicable to do this from home
- to visit a cemetery, burial ground or garden of remembrance to pay your respects
- to attend a wedding, civil partnership or funeral if you are invited
- to attend court or meet other legal obligations
- to escape a risk of illness or injury, such as for victims or people at risk of domestic abuse
- to access services provided to victims of crime or domestic abuse or those at imminent risk of becoming victims
Whenever you leave home, you should try to minimise time spent outside of the home, and ensure you stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you don’t live with or are in a permitted “bubble” with.
What if I do not have a home, or I am in unsuitable accommodation?
Your local authority should help find you suitable emergency accommodation and support if you do not have a home or are in unsuitable accommodation, they have funding to support this.
If you are in need of support then you should contact the housing options team in your local area, their contact details will be located on your local authority’s website.
The Welsh Government also funds Shelter Cymru to provide independent housing advice and support. Further information, advice and support can be found on the Shelter Cymru website.
Has shielding been reinstated?
It is not necessary for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to adopt strict shielding measures during this period. The regulations in place themselves act to reduce the circulation of the virus and by sticking strictly to the rules, people who are vulnerable will reduce their risk of exposure. Further reductions in risk can be achieved by:
- keeping contacts outside the household to a minimum and avoiding all situations either inside or outside where a a physical distance of 2m from those outside your household cannot be maintained
- shopping at quieter times of day and going once per week rather than every day, if you cannot do this online
- washing hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water and using hand sanitiser where hand washing facilities are not available
- wearing a face covering when required
- avoiding touching surfaces that have been touched by others
Seeing other people
Can I meet up with another household?
For most households the answer will be no, you must not meet up with anyone you do not live with, except in very limited circumstances such as providing or receiving care (see answer below on caring responsibilities).
If you are an adult living alone or are a single parent household, you can form a temporary extended household with one other household. This will allow you to spend time with the people in that household as if you lived with them.
Can friends or family from another household come into my home?
No – see answer above.
Are the rules on who I can meet different indoors and outdoors?
No. The purpose of this short lockdown is to reduce all physical contact between households to an absolute minimum, so as to do as much as we can to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Can I form an extended household (or bubble)?
No, you cannot form an extended household. The only exception to this is if you are an adult living alone or are a single parent household, you can be in a temporary extended household with one other household.
Are the rules different if I live in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) or supported living?
No. If you are a single adult or a single parent household within that shared home (a House in Multiple Occupation or HMO) the same rules apply; you can be in a temporary extended household with one other household from outside of your shared home. This also applies to students living in HMOs and to people in supported living arrangements where people have individual tenancies.
If you share facilities such as bathrooms or kitchens you should be aware of the increased risks and take appropriate precautions to minimise that risk – see PHW guidance for further information.
I share parental responsibility for a child with someone I don’t live with – can I still see them?
Where parental responsibility is shared, existing arrangements can continue and the child can move between both parents, and therefore between both parents’ households.
My child does not live with me but there are regular arrangements in place so we can continue to have contact with each other – can these arrangements continue?
Yes – for children who do not live in the same household as their parents and have existing arrangements in place to visit and safely have contact, these arrangements can continue. This could include children in foster care, children’s homes and adoptive placements.
I have caring responsibilities for somebody I do not live with – can I visit them?
You are allowed to provide care for or to help someone who needs it, such as an older person, a child or a vulnerable adult, even if they are not part of your household. You can also visit someone on compassionate grounds if necessary.
When considering whether there is a need to visit someone outside your household, especially indoors, you should remember we all have a responsibility to recognise the risks the virus presents to ourselves, our families and friends and our wider communities.
People need to make judgements for themselves about what is reasonable, in line with that overarching principle. Keep in mind that the purpose of the restrictions is to prevent the spreading of the virus, including to those we care about.
What do you mean by compassionate grounds?
You may have compassionate reasons for visiting someone in exceptional circumstances where that person is struggling with restrictions on meeting others generally or they may be suffering from a physical or mental illness, have suffered a bereavement or you may be concerned about their general wellbeing or welfare.
Visits to places such as supported accommodation, children’s homes, hospitals or care homes are permitted in exceptional circumstances, where they are allowed by the relevant setting. In each case, the service provider needs to put in place appropriate social distancing and safety measures before allowing visits, and you should contact them before travelling.
I rely on my wider family and friends to provide childcare while I am in work. Can they still do this for me?
Yes, but this form of childcare should only be used when no other methods are available. Children should not be cared for outside of their home if they are ill, or by anyone who is ill.
I live alone or am a single parent, so I am allowed to form an extended household – does it have to be with a household in my local area?
There are no rules specifying that your extended household has to be with someone in your local authority area, or within any set distance of your home. There are also no rules preventing extended households being formed with households outside Wales, and we recognise that these may in particular be the right answer for people living close to a border.
However, bearing in mind the overall objective of the firebreak lockdown is to reduce contact between people as much as possible, we do recommend that extended households are formed locally where possible. In particular we ask that people think very carefully about possible alternatives before forming extended households which would require extensive travel or travel into areas outside Wales with very high incidence of coronavirus.
Exercise and outdoor activity
Can I leave home to exercise?
Yes. Exercise is important for physical and mental health, and you can leave home as often as you like to exercise as long as you do so from home and alone or with members of your household (and/or a carer).
What kind of exercise is permitted?
There are no legal limits on this, but in practice this is constrained by other restrictions that have been imposed such as the closure of leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools. As one of the purposes of the restrictions is to reduce pressure on the Welsh NHS, we also ask people to avoid activities that involve a significant degree of risk (for example swimming or other exercise at sea, or in lakes, rivers or other waterways).
Are there any limits on how far I can run or cycle for exercise?
There are no limits on the distance you can travel during exercise, though the nearer you stay to your home, the better. Your exercise should start and finish from your home and you should exercise alone or with a member of your household.
Does taking a walk count as exercise?
Absolutely. All time spent outdoors is beneficial, as long as people avoid interacting with people they do not live with.
Can I exercise by going fishing or horse riding?
This is not specifically prohibited. However, you should not be driving to get to somewhere to exercise, and the need to carry sports equipment isn’t regarded as a justification on its own for driving in these circumstances. This will mean in practice most people cannot do these things for the short period of the lockdown.
All exercise must be undertaken alone or with members of your household.
Can I play tennis or golf?
Golf and tennis clubs are required to close during the period of the lockdown, as are golf courses and tennis courts.
Are parks open?
Parks are allowed to remain open for outdoor exercise. You can attend parks with members of your household but you must not arrange to meet with other households.
However, some parts of parks such as sports courts, skate parks, bowling greens and golf courses (including putting, pitch and putt or miniature golf) will be closed.
Are children’s playgrounds open?
Yes. The benefits of outdoor play to children are significant and keeping parks and playgrounds open supports children’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. Outdoor environments are lower risk in relation to coronavirus transmission.
However, risk cannot be eliminated, and parents and guardians are encouraged to ensure playgrounds do not get too busy, and take responsibility for social distancing, especially for adults and children over 11. In particular, you must not arrange to meet with other households at playgrounds and should not socialise there.
We also encourage frequent handwashing or sanitisation, not eating or drinking in parks, wiping down equipment with your own wipes, and maintaining low numbers within parks and on equipment by taking turns or using parks at less busy times.
Can I drive somewhere to exercise?
Exercise should be undertaken locally – from home or as close as possible to the home. In general this should not involve people driving to a location away from home for this purpose. No journeys of any significant distance should be taken, for example, just in order to exercise in the countryside or at beauty spots.
People with specific health or mobility issues may, however, need to travel from their home in order to be able to exercise. For example, some wheelchair users may not be able to start to exercise immediately outside their homes for practical access reasons, and may need to drive to a suitable flat location, such as a park, for this purpose. In these circumstances the journey should be to the nearest convenient accessible location and no long journeys should be undertaken unless absolutely necessary.
The need to carry sports equipment isn’t regarded as a justification on its own for driving in these circumstances.
Can I do other things while out for exercise?
Yes, as long as they are also permitted, and do not involve gathering with people from other households outside a permitted “bubble”. Combining exercise with walking a dog or going to a shop to buy food, for example, is considered to be reasonable.
Leaving your home to exercise should not be used as an excuse to undertake other activity which is not permitted. The purpose of leaving home is to exercise. Going for a walk and then having a picnic or spending a prolonged period on a park bench, for example, is not considered to be exercise and is not intended to be a reasonable excuse.
Are professional or elite sports allowed?
Sportspeople who work and earn a living through sport are allowed to continue working, and like everyone else they can leave home to do so if they cannot work from home. However, the elite programme, overseen by Sport Wales, has been suspended during this firebreak period.
The following non-professional sporting events have also been authorised to continue (which means coaching and training for them may also continue):
- Wales v Norway women’s UEFA European Championships football match on 27 October
- Wales v Scotland 6 Nations women’s rugby match on 1 November
- The UEFA Champions League match involving Swansea City AFC Ladies, to be held on 3 or 4 November
Will professional sports fixtures, such as the rugby union autumn internationals or the EFL Championship matches, be allowed to continue during this period?
Yes, fixtures involving professional sportspeople are allowed to continue behind closed doors. All participants, such as players, officials, coaches, and broadcasters, are there in a working capacity.
What are the rules about working from home?
You must work from home if you can.
However, people who are not able to work from home, but are able to work safely in their workplaces, can do so, provided their workplace remains open.
Our guidance to employers is that employees should not be required or placed under pressure to return to a workplace setting if there is not a clearly demonstrated business need for them to do so. Employers who are considering requiring their staff to return to workplace settings should first assess whether alternative arrangements could meet the majority of the employer’s needs. This should be discussed with staff or representatives of staff.
My work cannot be done from home – can I still go to work?
Yes. Occupations like construction and manufacturing can continue, subject to compliance with other rules such as employers ensuring that all reasonable measures are taken to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
My work cannot be done from home but I have concerns about my health and safety at work, what should I do?
If you have concerns that your health and safety is being compromised at work, you should discuss this with your employer in the first instance. If you are unable to find a resolution, you should contact your trade union or seek advice from Acas.
If you were previously shielding or are worried about being a higher risk of more serious symptoms, you can complete the COVID-19 workforce risk assessment. You should discuss the results with your employer who may take appropriate action. You should also speak to your trade union representative if you are a member of a union.
Can I carry out building, repair or maintenance work in someone’s home?
Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople, can continue as long as it is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus. However, we recommend that people consider whether the work can be safely deferred until after this short lockdown.
Like other businesses, people working in someone else’s home must take all reasonable measures to ensure to mitigate the risk of coronavirus spreading when working in other people’s households. Please see the guidance on reasonable measures and on working in other people’s homes for more information.
It is also recommended that no work should be carried out in any household where someone is isolating, unless it is to repair a fault which poses a direct risk to people’s safety – for example, emergency plumbing, or carry out an adaptation to allow that household to remain in their property. If attendance is unavoidable (because of an urgent or emergency situation), additional precautions should be taken to keep workers and householders completely separate from each other. In these cases, Public Health Wales can provide advice to tradespeople and households. But no work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
I have already started building, repair or maintenance work in someone’s home, can I complete that work?
Work underway can continue as long as it is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus. However, we recommend that people consider whether the work can be safely deferred until after this short lockdown.
Can I deliver housing-related support in emergency accommodation, supported accommodation or in someone’s home?
Homelessness, housing and support services can be delivered face-to-face but support providers should ensure that all reasonable measures are taken to mitigate the risk of coronavirus spreading. Service providers should also consider whether the support can be delivered by telephone or video calls during this period.
Can I do voluntary work?
Yes, although you must do so from home if reasonably practicable. If you are looking for more local volunteering opportunities you can contact your local County Voluntary Council (CVC).
You can also go out to provide care or help to a vulnerable person, including emergency help. This includes getting food and medicines for them. But it is important you do not put yourself or the person you are caring for at risk.
Does my business have to close under the new restrictions?
We have published a full list of businesses that are required to close temporarily.
We recognise the enormous efforts businesses have made to become safe places. This closure requirement is not a reflection on those efforts and many business environments make a low or moderate contribution only to the risk of transmitting the virus. But at this stage, minimising any contribution to the spread of the virus is important, which is why we are requiring certain businesses to close temporarily.
I run a business that has been closed due to the new restrictions. Is there any support available?
Yes – please see our pages on financial support for businesses.
I work in a business that will be forced to close down/impacted by these regulations. Is financial support being made available to support my job?
Yes, eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19 should have access to the support available from the UK Government through the existing Job Retention Scheme or the new expanded Job Support Scheme (JSS). The new JSS should ensure support is in place for who are new to the business and for those jobs that were not previously furloughed.
In addition, the Welsh Government has announced a comprehensive package of financial support, including the £300 million Economic Resilience Fund which will be open for applications from the week commencing 26 October 2020. We expect employers to use this to safeguard as many jobs as possible.
Is there any support available for people experiencing a reduction in income, for example, those on zero hour contracts?
There are a range of financial support options available if you are getting less work or no work because of COVID-19. You may be able to access support through the Discretionary Assistance Fund and apply for Universal Credit.
What support is available for self-employed people and freelancers?
Self-employed people may be eligible to claim financial support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
Freelancers working in cultural and creative sectors are able to apply for the Cultural Recovery Fund.
The Welsh Government is also making available £25m for local authorities to provide a discretionary grant for businesses that are closed or materially impacted.
My employer has had Welsh Government funding but is now making redundancies, what should I do?
Any employer in receipt of Welsh Government funding will need to continue to meet the conditions that are attached to that funding. The conditions attached to funding will vary and do not necessarily prevent an employer from making redundancies. If you are at risk of redundancy you should speak to your trade union, or seek further advice from Acas on your rights during redundancy.
I live in England but work in Wales, can I still travel?
Anyone who is in Wales, whether resident or travelling here, is bound by these rules. However, travelling to a workplace in Wales is a reasonable excuse to leave home. Similarly, people living in Wales can travel to England for work purposes where this is necessary and they cannot work from home.
Can businesses operate a delivery service, even if they are required to close?
Yes. Businesses can provide an online or telephone delivery service, even if they are required to close.
Education and childcare
Will primary schools remain open?
Yes, primary schools will remain open other than during usual half term holidays. The Welsh Government has said throughout that ensuring children can continue to be taught in school is a priority, and schools are also a safe environment.
Will secondary schools remain open?
Secondary schools will re-open after the half-term for children in years seven and eight. Pupils will be able to come in to take exams but other pupils will continue their learning from home for an extra week.
I live in Wales but travel daily to England to attend school, college or university. Can I still go there?
Yes. If you attend school, college or university in England, which is not covered by the firebreak, it is a reasonable excuse to travel there and this is allowed during the firebreak period, if you are unable to access your education online for this period.
This also applies to staff who travel to England to teach at schools, colleges or universities there and who are not able to work from home during the firebreak. However, you need to be mindful of any restrictions in place in the area you are travelling to in England.
What are the rules on teaching at universities?
Universities can continue to provide a combination of in person teaching and blended learning.
While incidents of Covid-19 have risen in the student population, evidence shows this is taking place outside the teaching and learning environment. Universities are operating Covid-secure campuses and adhering to strict social distancing. Coronavirus cases amongst staff remain low.
It is also much safer for students to remain on campus than to travel home.
Are university students who live away from home expected to return home?
We are asking all students living in Wales, and all our Welsh students living outside Wales, to help us keep Wales safe by not travelling between university and home.
You should only move between your term time address and your home address if absolutely necessary, for example for work, to provide or receive care or because of concerns about your wellbeing. You should not return home for a ‘visit’ during this period. You should not travel home if you have been asked to self-isolate or have Covid-19 symptoms.
What are the rules on teaching in colleges?
Colleges will move to online-only provision for the week following half term. Work-based learning programmes, like apprenticeships and traineeships, and adult learning will also be online-only for the period of the lockdown. Students scheduled to take GCSE resits or university entrance exams in the first week of November can attend college to do so.
Are childcare providers still allowed to operate?
Yes. Children can continue to access their usual childcare provider, and you can travel to provide, access or receive childcare. Children can also continue to attend staffed playwork provision, like open access play sessions.
All childcare and playwork providers, including Flying Start childcare, can remain open and offer their normal services, including provision through the half term holidays. This includes childcare and playwork providers operating from school sites, community centres and places of worship. Nannies can also continue to provide childcare.
Can family or friends provide informal childcare?
Yes, but this form of childcare should only be used when no other methods are available. Children should not be cared for outside of their home if they are ill, or by anyone who is ill. Adults dropping off children for childcare should not enter someone else’s home.
Are activities and clubs for children allowed to run?
No. With the exception of very limited circumstances (such as clubs for childcare and those running over the school holidays), mixing between households is not permitted during this period. This includes all indoor and outdoor gatherings, including activities such as Scouts groups, parent and toddler groups and dance classes. This reflects that people including children should not be spending time with people they do not live with unless essential.
Are libraries open?
No, libraries are closed during the period of the lockdown.
Health and social care
Can I still access health services?
NHS Wales is still here to help you if you need care, and it’s important you continue to attend appointments and seek help for urgent medical issues. You can leave your home to access local health services, including your GP surgery, dentist, optometrist or other health service. If your appointment changes, your health board or health professional will contact you. Advice on services that are still operating is available on your health board or trust website. You are advised to follow any guidance your local surgery, dentist, optometrist or health service has put in place to protect you and staff, including the need to keep 2m away from other patients whilst waiting to be seen.
If you have symptoms of Coronavirus do not visit your GP, hospital, pharmacy, optometrist or dentist. For more information please use the NHS Wales symptom checker.
Can I visit someone in hospital?
You are advised to contact the health board or trust for local information prior to visiting
Can I visit someone in a care home?
Routine visits (indoors and outdoors) should not take place during the firebreak period. Visits to care homes in exceptional circumstances including, but not restricted to, end of life visits are permitted during the firebreak period.
We are asking care home providers to ensure that appropriate and sensitive arrangements are made to support visits in these circumstances. The visit should be discussed and agreed with the individual care home in advance prior to travel.
Can I visit someone in supported living?
If you are a single household in supported living you are entitled to extend your household to include one other household.
It is important decisions related to people in supported living are taken collaboratively involving the people living there, their families, the providers of care and support and the commissioners of services.
Can I still see my support worker?
Yes, you can still see your support worker. However, support services should assess whether support can be delivered through phone or video. If support is delivered face-to-face then the support provider should ensure that it is done in a safe manner, with social distancing and provision of PPE if necessary.
Shopping and personal services
What shops are open?
All leisure and non-essential retail is closed. This includes clothes shops, furniture shops and car dealerships among many others. A full list of types of businesses required to close is available in our guidance on business closures.
Shops allowed to remain open include supermarkets and other food retailers, pharmacies, banks and post offices. However, wherever possible people should avoid unnecessary visits to these, and use alternative approaches such as online services and deliveries.
Why are some shops closed and not others?
It is important to remember the overall goal of this short lockdown, which is to protect the NHS and save lives. This is primarily achieved by people staying home as much as possible.
People should ask themselves whether they need to leave home. Clearly there are plenty of valid reasons why people may need to leave home, the most obvious of which is to buy food. However, people should do everything they can to keep to a minimum the amount of times they leave home for this purpose and the amount of time they are away. They should also consider whether alternatives such as home delivery are available. In addition if people do not need to buy any particular product they should not leave home to do so. Leaving home without a reasonable excuse is a criminal offence.
For some shops, all or the large majority of sales they make will be of items that are not needed urgently, and therefore people will never or very rarely be allowed to travel to those shops. It does not make sense in those circumstances to allow those shops to remain open, and doing so might wrongly imply to people that they are allowed to leave home to go to them.
Why are parts of supermarkets closed?
The reason for this is broadly the same as why some shops are closed. To minimise contact with others, people should be doing everything they can to keep to a minimum the amount of times they leave home and the amount of time they are away. If the products you wish to buy are not essential and are not needed urgently, you should not be making a special trip out to buy them. You should either wait until after the lockdown (which finishes on November 9) or consider whether alternatives such as home delivery are available.
It would also not be fair to allow supermarkets to sell products that are sold by other retailers that have been required to close. As shops selling electrical goods, for example, have been required to close, supermarkets should not be able to sell the same products they sell.
I need to buy something that is physically in the shop but is not available for sale – what can I do?
In exceptional circumstances such as emergencies, we have authorised shops that sell multiple types of product (such as supermarkets) to sell a limited range of other products that are not on general sale. Those products must be essential for the upkeep, maintenance and functioning of a household and be needed for a person’s welfare.
Individual stores will have their own processes for managing that, and you should make enquiries within the store as to how to access these products. You should also be aware that supermarkets do not have to sell these products to you.
When speaking to the staff in a shop, please maintain social distancing and please be respectful of them. It may be that staff will want to check that you are aware of the rules that apply in Wales. Shopping in current circumstances is a different experience, but please bear in mind that this is not the fault of shop workers who will only be doing what they are required to do by law and by their employers.
It is also important to remember that where an item is not available for general sale, you should only be seeking to buy it in a store in exceptional circumstances such as an emergency, and you only have a reasonable excuse to leave home to do so in those circumstances. If you can get the item delivered to your home, or the home of another person in need you are buying it for, this is safer and this is what you should do. We have asked supermarkets to provide priority delivery slots for extremely vulnerable people (those people who were previously shielding) so ordering products from supermarkets for home delivery should not lead to significant delays.
Will I have to give a detailed explanation of my personal circumstances in order to persuade shop staff to sell me something I urgently need?
No. Shops should not ask for evidence from you to demonstrate what the exceptional circumstances are which mean you need to buy a product that is not on general sale. However, they may ask you to confirm that you understand that there are restrictions and are complying with the law. As a customer you should not be purchasing products in stores that are not on general sale if there are not exceptional circumstances such as an emergency. This is your responsibility.
Will checkout staff or police be going through my trolley to check whether the items I have bought are essential?
No, this shouldn’t happen and we do not expect this to happen. Individual stores will have their own processes for managing their arrangements for selling items that are not on general sale in exceptional circumstances and this inludes closing parts of the store to the public. This means you should not have these products in your trolley unless you have already been allowed to buy them. However there is also an onus on you as a customer not to be looking to purchase products that are not on general sale unless exceptional circumstances such as an emergency apply.
When interacting with staff members, please maintain social distance and please be respectful of them. It may be that staff will want to check that you are aware of the rules that apply in Wales. Shopping in current circumstances is a different experience, but please bear in mind that this is not the fault of shop workers who will only be doing what they are required to do by law and by their employers.
I own a shop selling products that supermarkets can now sell in an emergency – will I now be allowed to reopen?
No additional types of shop are being allowed to reopen. Shops which sell multiple types of product are being authorised to sell some additional products in exceptional circumstances, but the overriding objective remains to minimise the reasons why people might leave home, and so to stop the spread of coronavirus. This requires us to limit the types of stores people visit.
How far can I travel to shop for essentials?
Please stay local to your home whenever possible. There are no set rules on this, but people are advised to avoid unnecessary travel and avoid crowded spaces wherever possible, particularly indoors. Alternative approaches such as online services and deliveries should be used wherever possible.
What restrictions are in place on alcohol sales?
Shops that are allowed to be open during the firebreak period must stop serving alcohol from 10pm and cannot begin to sell alcohol again until 6am the next day. On-line deliveries from supermarkets and other providers must not include alcohol after 10pm. The intention of the regulation is to ensure that supermarkets (regardless of where their operations are based) are not supplying alcohol to customers in Wales at the point of delivery after 10pm. Any retailers located within Wales but providing deliveries across the border to customers in England should follow the English regulations.
Am I allowed to use “click and collect” services?
Where shops are allowed to open, they are also allowed to provide a click and collect service. These should be provided in a Covid secure way. You should not travel long distances to access click and collect services.
Can I go shopping with my friends?
No. Meeting with people from outside your household for shopping is not allowed.
Can fireworks be sold?
Retail premises that are still open selling essential goods (for example newsagents and supermarkets) are permitted to sell fireworks. However, people need a reasonable excuse to leave home – buying fireworks is not in itself a reasonable excuse.
If the products you wish to buy are not essential and are not needed urgently, you should not be making a special trip out to buy them. You should either wait until after the lockdown (which finishes on November 9) or consider whether alternatives such as home delivery are available.
As a reminder, you should also not be meeting up with people you don’t live with in order to have firework displays.
Can hairdressers and beauty salons stay open?
No – these services are prohibited under the new lockdown regulations, wherever they take place.
Are refuse and recycling centres open?
No, these are not open during the lockdown period.
Can close contact services stay open?
No. We are asking all close contact services, such as massage (including sports and clinical massage), acupuncture, tattoo and hair and beauty services to close. Please see the business closures guidance for further details.
The only close contact treatments or services that are permitted to continue to operate are those which are providing medical treatments for illness or injury – for example, therapists working alongside or in conjunction with a statutory regulated health professional.
Restaurants, cafes, pubs and entertainment
Are cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars able to open?
These premises are allowed to open for takeaway services only. Food and drink may not be consumed at the premises. Alcoholic drinks cannot be sold between 10:00pm and 6:00am.
Physical distancing measures must be applied, and customers and staff are required to wear a face covering.
What entertainment venues are closed?
All entertainment venues, such as cinemas, theatres and bowling alleys, must be closed. Please see the business closures guidance for more information.
Travelling and transport
Are there travel restrictions in place in Wales?
Yes. Travel is limited to essential travel only, for example, for caring responsibilities or for work purposes where people cannot work from home.
I live in Wales, can I go on holiday in Wales or the rest of the UK?
No. Travelling within Wales for a holiday is not one of the permitted reasons to travel under the Regulations. It is also not a reasonable excuse to travel to the rest of the UK for a holiday during the firebreak period.
If you have pre-booked – and paid for a holiday – we would advise you to contact the travel agent or travel company to discuss the current situation in Wales and the restrictions which have been put in place by the Welsh Government to restrict non-essential travel. You should also contact your travel insurer to discuss the situation – while many insurers have designed policies with coronavirus exclusion clauses, some annual policies may cover this situation.
I do not live in Wales, can I travel to Wales for a holiday or to visit family and friends?
No. Travel in to Wales is limited to essential travel only during the firebreak period, for example travelling for work purposes or to return home.
People travelling from an exempt county or territory need a reasonable excuse to enter and remain in Wales and must follow the firebreak regulations, as explained in this guidance.
People travelling from a non-exempt country need a reasonable excuse to enter and remain in Wales and must isolate for 14 days on arrival.
Can I go on holiday abroad?
No. Travel abroad is only permitted for people with a reasonable excuse.
We know this will be disappointing but travelling out of Wales for a holiday is not one of the permitted reasons under the Regulations. The Regulations are in place to protect you and your loved ones from coronavirus and to prevent the onward spread of the virus to other areas of Wales, the UK and other countries.
If you have pre-booked – and paid for a holiday – we would advise you to contact the travel agent or travel company to discuss the current situation in Wales and the restrictions which have been put in place by the Welsh Government to restrict non-essential travel. You should also contact your travel insurer to discuss the situation – while many insurers have designed policies with coronavirus exclusion clauses, some annual policies may cover this situation.
Can I collect or drop off someone at the airport if they are travelling to Wales for an allowed purpose?
Yes, if the only alternative would be for them to use public transport or a taxi. Please follow our guidance on travelling safely.
Are accommodation businesses in Wales allowed to open?
No, all accommodation businesses are required to be closed.
However, accommodation which is closed can continue to provide accommodation for anybody who is living there as their main residence as of 6pm on Friday 23 October, or is staying there at that time and is unable to return to their main residence. Accommodation businesses should ensure they do not unintentionally make anyone homeless as a result of closure – for advice they should contact the local authority housing options team.
Local Authorities or Welsh Ministers can also authorise or make a request for accommodation businesses to provide some other services whilst closed. Requests could for example include accommodating key workers, people who have been displaced or are homeless, or medical patients.
I do not live in Wales but I am currently in Wales on holiday. When can I return home?
We recognise that some people have been unable to return home before the lockdown came in to force, for example because they are booked on a flight which could not be changed.
In these circumstances, you will need to comply with the restrictions in your current location until such a time as you are able to travel home or to another destination outside Wales, which you should do as soon as possible.
In these instances, your accommodation provider is allowed to continue providing its services to you until you can return home. It does not need to be specially authorised to continue accommodating you.
I do not live in Wales – can I transit through Wales, for example to use the airport or to pass between England and Ireland?
Yes, this is permitted, but you should keep all necessary stops within Wales to a minimum, and minimise all contact with people as much as possible.
I live in Wales but I am currently on holiday outside of Wales. When will I be able to return home?
We recognise that some people were unable to return home before the lockdown came in to force, for example because they are booked on a flight which cannot be changed. In these circumstances you should return home at the earliest opportunity.
Can I travel to and from my second home during the lockdown?
Until Monday 9 November at 12:01am, travel in Wales without a reasonable excuse is an offence. Travelling into, out of or within Wales to visit, check or inspect a holiday home or stay in a second home is not a reasonable excuse.
The same rules apply to caravans, boats and other temporary accommodation.
Caravan owners will need to make arrangements with the site owners to winterise their caravans after the circuit breaker lockdown period has ended.
Is public transport still operating?
Services will continue, particularly during peak times. However, bus and rail timetables will be reduced and potentially subject to late cancellations. Please check the latest service information before you travel.
Can taxis still operate?
Yes, taxis can still operate where measures are in place to mitigate the risks which are involved when sharing a vehicle. However, all journeys must be for one of the very limited purposes allowed under the lockdown rules.
Can I still have repair and maintenance work done on my vehicle?
Yes, if this is necessary and cannot reasonably be deferred until after the lockdown period. Routine services should be deferred.
My MOT is due during this lockdown period – do I still have to get it done?
Yes, you still need a valid MOT certificate if you need to use your vehicle for essential travel. If your MOT is not due during this lockdown period but you have an appointment booked, please consider deferring.
Can I car share or give someone a lift?
Please avoid sharing a car with another person outside your household. You can follow this guidance on travelling safely.
Can I have driving lessons?
No – during the short period of this lockdown, driving lessons should not take place.
I have a driving test or theory test booked during this period – can it go ahead?
No – you should rearrange your test for 9 November or later. There is currently no charge for rearranging your test with DVSA.
Can I move home?
Yes, if you can’t delay the moving date until after the short lockdown period is over.
Associated activities, for example, removals processes, property preparation, handover of keys, surveys and valuations can also take place in line with guidance on working in other people’s homes.
Can home viewings take place?
No. Property viewings cannot take place during the firebreak period and high street estate agencies are required to close. Virtual viewings can continue.
Can a valuation or mortgage survey be done at my property?
People responsible for valuing and surveying, such as estate agents and surveyors are not prohibited from entering people’s homes, as long as it is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus. However, we strongly advise that, wherever possible, such activity is deferred until after this short lockdown.
Can I be evicted from my home during the firebreak period?
No. Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service has confirmed that no evictions will take place during the firebreak. Any evictions that are currently scheduled for the firebreak period will be postponed to a date after 9 November.
Are refuges still open?
Emergency accommodation for victims fleeing domestic abuse and sexual violence remain open and continue accepting referrals. Live Fear Free helpline is a 24 hour, free service for anyone experiencing violence or abuse, or for anyone concerned about a victim’s safety. Live Fear free can be contacted by
Phone: 0808 8010 800 or Text: 078600 77333
Guidance for providers of refuge accommodation on making these safe can be accessed here.
Places of worship, marriages and civil partnerships, cemeteries and funerals
What are the rules for religious services?
Places of worship are not open to the public, other than for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies or funerals, where people can attend at the invitation of the organiser. Please see the guidance on funerals and guidance on weddings for more information.
Faith leaders may access the place of worship to broadcast (without a congregation) an act of worship or funeral, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast. Weddings and funerals may also be broadcast from places of worship.
Are all potential wedding or civil partnership ceremony venues now allowed to open?
Places of worship and Register Offices are able to remain open for wedding and civil partnership ceremonies. This is subject to the need to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of spreading the virus on the premises.
Other ‘approved premises’ such as hotels, are required to close alongside other businesses in the hospitality sector.
Wedding or civil partnership ‘receptions’ are not permitted, and in practice many venues are required to close for the duration of this short lockdown
Are there limits to the number of people who can attend ceremonies?
The number who are able to attend a ceremony indoors is limited by the capacity of the venue where it is being held, once physical distancing measures have been taken into account
To ensure that the maximum number that can attend is observed attendance must be by invitation only. Please see the relevant guidance on weddings and civil partnership ceremonies.
What are the rules on holding receptions?
Wedding and civil partnership receptions are not allowed.
A close family member has died and I need to organise the funeral – what do I do?
Funerals can be a distressing experience, and the impact of coronavirus is making it even more difficult to make practical arrangements. The guidance on funerals issued prior to the firebreak should be read in conjunction with these FAQs as the firebreak rules temporarily supersede the funeral guidance.
Can I go to a funeral?
Yes, but you must be invited. Numbers are constrained by the need to put physical distancing measures in place.
I am travelling for several hours to attend a funeral. Can I stay in a hotel overnight?
Local authorities have the discretion to allow people to stay in hotels if they are travelling long instances to attend a funeral.
Can I hold a wake or another form of gathering following a funeral?
No – for the duration of the lockdown period, these gatherings are not allowed.
Can I go to a cemetery to visit a family member’s grave?
Yes. But you should ensure that you follow physical distancing practices when doing so.
Can Acts of Remembrance take place at War Memorials or Cenotaphs?
Acts of Remembrance that are outdoors at War Memorials or Cenotaphs are permitted to take place on 7 or 8 November. Indoor services are not permitted.
Up to a maximum of 30 individuals, including event organisers, are permitted to gather outdoors and can take part in an Act of Remembrance. Those who organise an event will have a duty of care to those attending to make it as safe as possible and uphold guidance around physical distancing and hygiene.
Can services of Remembrance be held in a place of worship?
No – places of worship will not be open to the public for Acts of Remembrance. Places of worship can only open for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies and funerals.
Faith leaders may access a place of worship to broadcast (without a congregation) an act of worship, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast. This could include a service of remembrance and others working to facilitate the broadcast can also attend.
Can parades or marches be held to mark Remembrance this year?
No, parades should not take place.
Can people travel to participate in Acts of Remembrance?
A person has a reasonable excuse to leave the place where they are living to attend an event to commemorate Remembrance that is held on 7 of 8 November.
Animal health and welfare
Are vets still able to work?
Yes, but you should only seek treatment for your animals if it is urgent and cannot be deferred until after 9 November.
Can I travel to tend to my animals for welfare reasons?
You should try to put in place alternative arrangements that do not involve travel if possible. Please visit our guidance for livestock and equine owners.
Enforcement and fines
Who enforces the restrictions?
The restrictions are being enforced by local authority enforcement officers and the police.
What can local authority enforcement officers do?
They can issue fixed penalty notices or recommend prosecution in a magistrates’ court. In addition, they have wide-ranging powers to take practical steps to disperse gatherings, require people to go home and enter property.
What if reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus aren’t taken on premises or in the workplace?
Local authority enforcement officers are now able to issue a “premises improvement notice”. This requires the person responsible for the premises to take specified measures, and if those measures are not taken an officer may issue a “premises closure notice” requiring the premises to close. Where necessary, an officer may also issue a premises closure notice without having previously issued a premises improvement notice.
So if people don’t comply premises can be closed down.
What will the police do?
The police in Wales will engage with people, explain what they need to do and encourage them to comply. But our police forces have been given powers and they will use them – the restrictions will be enforced if people don’t respond.
What are the financial penalties?
The coronavirus regulations include provisions for a fixed penalty notice to be issued for most types of breaches of the regulations, carrying a fine of £60; this is increased to £120 for a second offence and continues to double for repeated offences, up to a maximum of £1,920. If prosecuted, however, a court can impose any fine (it is not limited).
Organising an unlicensed music event of more than 30 people is a separate criminal offence. These are events that are not licensed or otherwise authorised under the Licensing Act 2003. A breach of this prohibition will be an offence punishable by conviction and an unlimited fine or, as an alternative to conviction, by a fixed penalty set at £10,000.
The unlimited fine or significant fixed penalty for organisers of these illegal events reflects the potentially serious public health consequences at this time.
We hope people understand the severity of the situation we are facing and will comply with the regulations, without having to be issued penalties.