Welsh Government to bring in tighter lockdown rules from Saturday
The Welsh Government will introduce new rules to tighten the coronavirus lockdown from Saturday onwards.
The new rules will prevent people not only from leaving where they live but from remaining away from where they live, too.
It will mean that people who do leave their home with a reasonable excuse – such as going out to shop for food, for healthcare or for work – cannot remain outside to do other things.
It will mean that people who travel from home to stay at second homes or who travel elsewhere for exercise cannot do so.
The Welsh Government has also asked the four police forces in Wales to provide further advice about whether existing provisions intended to prevent people from travelling to second homes in Wales need to be further strengthened.
First Minister Mark Drakeford will today also announce a new framework and seven key questions to help lead Wales out of the pandemic.
This, he said, will help determine when the right time comes for the stay-at-home restrictions to be eased.
“The restrictions are staying in place, which mean you must stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS,” Mark Drakeford said.
“Over the last few months, we have taken unprecedented steps to protect everyone, but particularly those most at risk from serious illness. This approach has helped the NHS prepare and cope with coronavirus and it has also helped to save many lives.
“The changes we are introducing supplement the rules already in force but they respond to some challenges being faced in parts of the country and by families throughout Wales.
“Our message has not changed – anyone can get coronavirus, anyone can spread it. So please, stay home, protect the NHS, and save lives.”
Other changes, that will come into force at 00:01 on Saturday, include:
- Applying the 2m physical distancing duty on premises used for “click and collect” style services – this duty is already in place for other workplaces, which remain open;
- Extending the physical distancing duty to cafés accessible by the public in hospitals, and those responsible for canteens in schools, prisons and for use by the armed forces, to ensure all reasonable measures are put in place.
- Widening the definition of vulnerable person to include other specific groups or conditions where people could benefit from assistance and to whom providing supplies is a reasonable excuse for another person to leave home (for example, people with dementia)
The more stringent rules on laving home come after the Welsh Government this week introduced stricter rules on second home owners in Wales who want to claim business grants set up to help companies hit by the coronavirus lockdown.
Opposition parties had called on the Welsh Government to change their guidelines so that owners of second homes do not have access to business support grants of up to £25,000.
There was concern that second home owners who had deliberately converted to business rates to avoid paying higher council taxes were applying for the financial support announced by the government following the development of Covid-19.
The new Welsh Government rules mean that second home owners will need to meet a number of new criteria before being eligible for a grant.
As of 20 April 2020, in relation to self-catering accommodation, properties will not be eligible for grant unless the following criteria are met:
- The self-catering accommodation can produce two years of trading accounts directly preceding the current financial year of the business
- The self-catering accommodation must actually have been let for a period of 140 days or more in the financial year 2019-20
- The self-catering accommodation business must be the primary source of income for the owner (minimum threshold is 50%).
“Local authorities have full discretion to request and examine trading business accounts, booking lists and self-assessment tax returns submitted to HMRC for the financial year ending 31 March 2019 if additional evidence is required to demonstrate that this criteria is met,” the Welsh Government said.
“In cases where local authorities have decided to request additional evidence and the evidence shows that the scheme criteria are not met, local authorities are required to withhold payment of grant.”