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'Fire break' lockdown in Wales.

Wales has gone into a "short, sharp" national lockdown until 9 November as “a firebreak” to combat rising Covid-19 cases.

People have been told to stay at home and pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops are shut.

Primary schools will reopen after the half-term break, but only Years 7 and 8 in secondary schools can return under new lockdown rules.

Gatherings indoors and outdoors with those from other households are also banned.

Wales first minister, Mark Drakeford, who said that, without action, the NHS would not be able to cope, added the firebreak would be "a short, sharp, shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and buy us more time.”

A UK government scheme to  cover 67% of workers’ wages at firms forced to close, due to start on 1 November, will not be brought forward to cover the Welsh lockdown, although some workers may be able to be re-furloughed.

Under the lockdown, leisure businesses, community centres, libraries and recycling centres are shut; places of worship are closed for normal services, except for funerals and weddings.

The announcement follows rising numbers of Covid cases in Wales and increasing hospital admissions and replaces the 17 local lockdowns that had been in place.

At the time of the announcement Covid-19 figures stood at 128.2 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period with 4,043 cases recorded between 10 and 16 October.

Also of concern was the proportion of positive tests, which stood at just under 12% in Wales but nearly 19% in Cardiff, which also had the highest case rate of 226.6 per 100,000.

Halloween and Bonfire Night gatherings will not be allowed under the restrictions, which took effect from the start of the half-term holiday, but there will be an exception for small Remembrance Sunday commemoration services on November 8.

Mark Drakeford said that non-essential cross-border travel in and out of Wales would have to end during the firebreak period.

Universities in Wales continue to provide "a mixture of in-person and online learning” but, if students have reading weeks, or half-term breaks, they will also need to stay in their university accommodation, the first minister added.

The Welsh Government has provided a package of almost £300m to support businesses.

The rules are similar to the lockdown in March with people having to stay at home except for very limited reasons, such as exercise; home working where possible and people cannot visit other households or meet people they do not live with indoors or outdoors.

All non-food retail are shut, and cafes, restaurants and pubs have had to close unless they provide delivery or takeaways and hotels, hairdressers and beauticians have also shut.

People breaching the rules risk being fined with fixed penalty notices starting at £60.

Adults living alone, or single parents, will be able to join with one other household from anywhere in Wales for support.

Existing rules on wearing facemasks indoors in public places remain in force.

The national government's scientific advisers called for a short lockdown in England to halt the spread of Covid-19 last month, documents have revealed.

The experts said an immediate "circuit breaker" was the best way to control cases, at a meeting on 21 September.

However the Government instead chose to introduce the current three-tier system to protect the economy.