Local lockdowns in four areas South Wales after a ‘worrying and rapid rise’ in coronavirus cases

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The areas of Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Blaenau Gwent will be placed under a local lockdown following an increase in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases, the Welsh Government has announced.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said there had been a “worrying and rapid rise” in cases of Covid-19 in the four areas, which have a combined population of about 430,000 people.

Under the measures, which come into force at 6pm on Tuesday, people must not enter or leave the areas without a reasonable excuse.

People are only able to meet outdoors and are unable to meet members of their extended household indoors.

All licensed premises will have to close at 11pm.

Gething told a press conference in Cardiff: “Following the decision to place additional coronavirus restrictions in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, we have seen a worrying and rapid rise in cases in four other South Wales council areas – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport.

“In many cases, this is linked to people socialising indoors without social distancing.

“We are seeing evidence of coronavirus spreading. We need to take action to control and, ultimately, reduce its spread and protect people’s health.

“It’s always a difficult decision to introduce restrictions but coronavirus has not gone away – it is still circulating in communities across Wales and, as we are seeing in parts of South Wales, small clusters can quickly cause real issues in local communities.

“We need everyone’s help to bring coronavirus under control. We need everyone to pull together and to follow the measures which are there to protect you and your loved ones.”

On Tuesday, the Welsh Government will call an urgent meeting of all local authority, health board and police forces from Bridgend to the English border.

This will discuss the “wider situation” in South Wales and whether further measures are required across the area, a government spokesman said.

The new measures, which will be enforced by local authorities and police, will be regularly reviewed, he added.

On Sunday, Public Health Wales said a further 199 people had tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 20,644.

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