Local lockdown announced for Rhondda Cynon Taf following ‘rapid rise’ in cases

September 16, 2020 1:29:29 PM

Local lockdown announced for Rhondda Cynon Taf following ‘rapid rise’ in cases

A local lockdown will be enforced in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area of south Wales following a “sharp increase” in Covid-19 cases, the Welsh Government has said.

Under the new restrictions, which come into force at 6pm on Thursday, people must not enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse.

Meetings with other people indoors will not be allowed, including for extended households.

All licensed premises will have to close at 11pm.

Health minister Vaughan Gething announced the new restrictions at a Welsh Government press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“We have seen a rapid rise in cases in Rhondda Cynon Taf in a very short space of time, linked to people socialising indoors and not following social distancing guidelines,” Mr Gething said.

“We now have evidence of wider community transmission in the borough, which means we need to take urgent action to control and, ultimately, reduce the spread of the virus and protect people’s health.”

The restrictions will be regularly reviewed but if cases do not fall, further measures will be considered.

Figures show the rolling seven-day new case rate is 82.1 per 100,000 people in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

On Tuesday, the testing positivity rate was 4.3% – the highest in Wales.

Contact tracing teams have traced about half of the cases to a series of clusters in the area, while the rest are linked to community transmission.

One of the clusters in Rhondda Cynon Taf is associated with a rugby club and pub in the lower Rhondda.

The other is a club outing to Doncaster Races, which stopped off at a series of pubs on the way.

Enforcement of the new restrictions will be undertaken by the local authority and by police.

Last Tuesday, a similar local lockdown was introduced in Caerphilly county borough.

Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru member of the Senedd for the Rhondda, said the new restrictions were “disappointing but not a surprise”.

“This was something we feared would happen due to the increase in transmission rates,” she said.

“I urge everyone to follow the guidance on social distancing, washing hands and only meeting other households outdoors.

“Wearing face masks inside shops is also essential. I also urge everyone who is contacted by Track and Trace to co-operate fully so we can shut this virus down.

“The sooner we get this under control, the sooner we can ease restrictions and the safer our loved ones will be.”

Andrew RT Davies, shadow health minister for the Welsh Conservatives, said any local lockdown should be “for as short a time as possible”.

“Every effort must be made to avoid a similar situation occurring in other parts of Wales, which includes by learning from these two local lockdowns, and I see that there are some differences between them,” he said.

“In RCT, licensed premises have to close by 11pm, but this wasn’t imposed in Caerphilly.

“The health minister must explain the rationale behind this and give guidance across Wales to prevent other lockdowns.”

On Wednesday, there were 199 further cases of Covid-19 across Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 19,880.

Of these new cases, 52 were in Rhondda Cynon Taf, 36 in Caerphilly, 15 in Newport and 14 in Cardiff.

Public Health Wales said no further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic remaining at 1,597.

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