Communities Health and Care Services

Coronavirus: lifting the restrictions in Wales

This article outlines the latest review of the coronavirus restrictions, amendments to the regulations and what the current restrictions in place in Wales are, including for those shielding.

Estimated reading time: 4 Minutes

This article was last updated on Monday 6 July

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

This article outlines the latest review of the coronavirus restrictions, amendments to the regulations and what the current restrictions in place in Wales are.

The Health Protection Regulations

The First Minster for Wales, Mark Drakeford, made the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (“the regulations”) on 26 March 2020.

The regulations will expire six months after they came into force (26 September 2020). However, the Welsh Ministers must review the restrictions every 21 days to decide whether they are still needed and proportionate to what the Ministers want to achieve. The restrictions can end before September 2020 if the Welsh Ministers revoke the provisions imposing the restrictions.

Following the fourth review on 19 June 2020, and the subsequent amendment to the regulations, from 22 June all non-essential retail business, childcare facilities, the housing market can re-open; and private prayer in places of worship can take place. On 3 July the First Minister announced that the requirement to stay local would be lifted from 6 July.

The next review will be carried out by 9 July 2020.

Social distancing

Social distancing includes a number of measures that reduce social contact with people to help reduce the transmission of coronavirus. For example:

  • Working from home;
  • Avoiding public transport; and
  • Keeping a 2 metre distance between you and other people.

The Welsh Government advises some people who are at an increased risk from coronavirus to stringently follow the social distancing. This includes those who are over 70 years old; have asthma or diabetes; and those who are pregnant. This group of people is different to those who are advised to shield. Our blog post outlines the guidance for those shielding.

The regulations include a requirement that people may not leave, and remain away from, the place they are living for the purposes of work if it is reasonably practicable for them to work from home.

The Welsh Government’s guidance on travelling encourages people to “think carefully about the times, routes and ways [to] travel” if they need to. It advises people to walk or cycle if they can.

The First Minister stressed during the review of the restrictions that:

We need everyone to continue to take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones…this means working from home wherever possible; maintaining social distancing and frequent hand washing.

Extended households

The regulations provide for the creation of extended households (sometimes referred to as a ‘bubble’). It says if two households agree to be treated as a single household, then any reference in the regulations to a household is to be considered as including the two households. Essentially, the people in the two households become one single household and have the same legal freedoms in terms of gathering indoors and staying in each other’s homes.

The Welsh Government’s guidance says “there is no limit on the number of people who can be in an extended household”. It also outlines some ‘key rules’, this includes that:

  • No person can be part of more than one extended household, with the exception of children who live in two homes where their parents have separated and have joint custody;
  • All of the adult members of each household must agree to join with the other household; and
  • Once it’s been agreed and the two households have joined to become an extended household, this arrangement cannot be changed.

Carers (unpaid carers or care workers) can continue to provide care and do not need to be considered as a member of the extended household. Those who are shielding are also able to be part of an extended household.

A household in Wales can join with a household in England, however, the guidance says “the arrangements will need to comply with the rules in both counties”.

The First Minister said that “if one member of an extended household develops symptoms of coronavirus, the entire extended household should self-isolate, not just those living together”.

Gatherings

The regulations say that no person may, without a reasonable excuse, participate in a gathering outdoors except where the gathering includes people of no more than two households, their carer or a person they are providing care for. The Welsh Government’s guidance says there are no restrictions on the number of people who can meet outdoors, as long it’s only two households.

The regulations also say people can’t gather indoors, without a reasonable excuse, except with members of their household, their carer or someone they’re providing care to.  

A reasonable excuse for both indoor and outdoor gatherings includes the following:

  • Seeking medical help or providing care and assistance to a vulnerable person;
  • Attending a funeral if invited and visiting a cemetery, burial ground or garden of remembrance;
  • Attending a civil partnership or marriage if invited;
  • Meeting a legal obligation to attend court, participating in legal proceedings or satisfying bail conditions;
  • Accessing public services including childcare or educational services;
  • Moving house; and
  • Leaving your house to avoid injury, illness or a risk of harm caused by domestic abuse, or to access domestic abuse support services.

Exercise

There are no restrictions in the regulations on the type of exercise that can be done, but it is constrained by some of the other restrictions. This includes the restrictions on gatherings. Indoor leisure centres, gyms, sports courts and swimming pools are also closed.

People are allowed to exercise with either members of their own or one other household. The Welsh Government’s guidance says that people can drive somewhere to exercise. Outdoor sport and leisure facilities may open, apart from playgrounds and outdoor gyms. This includes, tennis courts, bowling greens, golf driving ranges and cricket nets.

Enforcement

Police constables and community support officers have powers to direct anyone found to be breaking the restrictions to return to their homes. They can also disperse gatherings and take people back to their homes and can “use reasonable force” to exercise this power.

The regulations make it an offence to break these restrictions, which is punishable by a fine (fixed penalty notice). The amount will be £60, but reduce to £30 if paid within 14 days. If a person has already received a fixed penalty notice under these regulations, the amount of the fine increases with each notice received. The maximum amount the fine can be is £1,920 for the sixth and any subsequent fixed penalty notices.


Article by Lucy Morgan, Senedd Research, Welsh Parliament

We’ve published a range of material on the coronavirus pandemic, including a post setting out the help and guidance available for people in Wales and a timeline of Welsh and UK governments’ response.

You can see all our coronavirus-related publications by clicking here. All are updated regularly.

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