Great Britain

Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli go into lockdown: Live updates

Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli are all going into local lockdown as Wales' faces rising numbers of coronavirus infections.

The news was announced by Health minister Vaughan Gething at the Welsh Government coronavirus briefing on Friday, September 25.

Lanelli's lockdown comes into force at 6pm on Saturday and the lockdowns in Cardiff and Swansea come into force at 6pm on Sunday.

You can follow along here for live updates from 12.30pm.

It comes as Cardiff residents have been warned they could face local restrictions after the number of Covid-19 cases in the Welsh capital "accelerated rapidly", the leader of the council has said.

Over the past seven days, Cardiff reached a test positivity rate of 3.8%, exceeding the Welsh Government's "amber" threshold of 2.5% - part of its "traffic light roadmap" strategy for managing the pandemic.

Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas said: "This has meant that over the past week Cardiff has moved from a relatively stable position to one where the city is on the verge of entering the Welsh Government's 'red zone'."

He added: "If case numbers continue to rise over the weekend there is a very real possibility that Cardiff will enter into the Welsh Government's 'red zone'."

Local lockdown restrictions are in place in six areas of Wales - Caerphilly, Newport, Bridgend, Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent and RCT - meaning more than 850,000 people in south-east Wales face additional restrictions.

The news comes one day after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a new job support scheme he said would see the Government "directly support" the wages of people in viable jobs working at least a third of their normal hours.

Mr Sunak announced that the temporary reduction of VAT rates from 20% to 5% will remain in place until 31 March 2021.

Mr Sunak said: "The truth is the responsibility for defeating coronavirus cannot be held by Government alone. It is a collective responsibility shared by all because the cost is paid by all."

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Coronavirus briefing to begin shortly

Health minister Vaughan Gething is set to give today's Welsh Government coronavirus briefing.

Follow along here for live updates from 12.30pm.

Scenes from Cardiff as pubs closed at 10pm for the first time

Would-be late-night drinkers in Wales have faced the first evening of new measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.

All pubs, bars and restaurants had to shut by 10pm on Thursday to comply with new rules that were announced earlier this week.

Along with the 10pm closing times, all hospitality venues must now offer table service only to try to help contain the spread of Covid-19.

The streets of the capital were eerily quiet as pubs and clubs heeded the curfew.

See photos and read the full story here.

Brigend rugby club visitors urged to isolate after cluster of cases

People who visited a rugby club in Brigend county borough have been told to isolate and get tested for Covid-19 after positive cases were identified.

Bridgend County Borough Council and Public Health Wales are urging people who visited Heol Y Cyw Rugby Football Club on Saturday, September 12, to look out for symptoms, self-isolate and, if necessary, get tested.

The advice follows the discovery that a small cluster of cases has been traced among people who visited the club on the same date and people with coronavirus are also known to have gone there while they were infectious.

Read the full story here.

Caerphilly lockdown extended by seven days

Caerphilly 's local lockdown will be extended by seven days.

The restrictions were introduced on September 8 in the Caerphilly County Borough Council area in response to a sharp and sudden rise in coronavirus cases.

The Welsh Government decided a local lockdown would help to protect people’s health and control the spread of the virus.

Cases of coronavirus have declined steadily since the restrictions were introduced in Caerphilly two weeks ago but, following a review of the situation, Welsh Ministers have decided to extend the lockdown period.

More on that here.

Six pubs in RCT served with improvement notices

More pubs in the Rhonnda Cynon Taf area have been ordered to improve their social distancing measures and Covid-19 guidance.

Six public houses and licensed premises in Aberdare, Treorchy and Ton Pentre have been served with Premises Improvement Notices.

Council enforcement officers have given them 48 hours to make changes and follow the Covid-19 Guidance and Regulations in relation to social distancing.

You can see the full list of locations here.

Rising number of cases is 'a stark warning for us all'

The rise in cases across the UK is a "clear" signal, Public Health England's Professor Yvonne Doyle said, as she insisted people must follow the stricter measures announced this week in order to help control the virus.

The number of lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 across the four nations rose to 6,634 as of 9am on Thursday, taking the overall number of cases confirmed to 416,363.

Testing capacity has expanded significantly since the outbreak began meaning more cases will be detected, but Prof Doyle said the latest figure was "a stark warning for us all".

She added: "The signals are clear. Positivity rates are rising across all age groups and we're continuing to see spikes in rates of admission to hospital and critical care."

More on this in today's morning coronavirus headlines.

Rio de Janeiro's Carnival parade delayed for the first time in a century

Rio de Janeiro's annual Carnival parade has been delayed for the first time in a century as Brazil continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The president of Rio's League of Samba Schools announced the spread of Covid-19 had made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades in February which are a cultural mainstay and, for many, a source of livelihood.

Rio's City Hall has yet to announce a decision about the Carnival street parties that take place across the city, though some have already cancelled.

Brazil's first confirmed coronavirus case was on February 26, one day after this year's Carnival ended.

Public debt stays at record highs amid Covid-19 pandemic

The UK's national debt hit a new record at the end of August, the latest figures show as the country's embattled public sector borrowed another £35.9 billion.

Debt hit £2,023.9 billion, just weeks after passing £2 trillion for the first time ever in July.
It comes as both central and local Government is investing billions of pounds in trying to help people and the economy through the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It means that borrowing is now equivalent to 101.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) - a measure of the combined value of all goods and services produced in the UK each year.
In July borrowing rose higher than GDP for the first time since the early 1960s.

Sixty pupils and staff self-isolating after Swansea school pupil tests positive for coronavirus

Sixty children and staff at a Swansea primary school are self-isolating after a pupil tested positive for coronavirus.

The 53 children and seven members of teaching staff at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llwynderw in West Cross have been identified as contacts of the pupil.

The full story is here.

Pub shut down for two weeks for four coronavirus rules breaches

A Ceredigion pub has been shut down for breaching coronavirus regulations.

The Mill Inn in Aberystwyth has been ordered to close by Ceredigion Council and warned it will not be allowed to re-open for a fortnight unless it has made the necessary improvements needed to bring it up to the required standard.

The closure notice came into effect at 9pm on Tuesday night.

Wales' first local lockdown - life in Caerphilly two weeks on

A lot has changed since the first local lockdown in Wales was announced.

Over the last two weeks five other boroughs have joined Caerphilly with similar measures, while national restrictions are now in place across Wales making masks mandatory and shutting hospitality venues by 10pm.

At the same time cases across the country have skyrocketed, reaching daily figures last seen earlier this summer when UK lockdown was firmly in place.

Here’s a glimpse of life in Caerphilly two weeks after it went into local lockdown.

People with both flu and Covid-19 are twice as likely to die as someone with coronavirus alone

People infected with both flu and Covid-19 are more than twice as likely to die as someone with the new coronavirus alone, a new study has shown.

An analysis by Public Health England (PHE) of cases from January to April 2020 also found that people with the two viruses were more at risk of severe illness.

Read the full story here.

Caerphilly's local lockdown to be extended by a week

Caerphilly ‘s local lockdown will be extended by seven days.

The restrictions were introduced on September 8 in the Caerphilly County Borough Council area in response to a sharp and sudden rise in coronavirus cases.

The Welsh Government decided a local lockdown would help to protect people’s health and control the spread of the virus.

Where are cases in Wales the highest?

Three local authorities recorded more than 100 coronavirus cases per 100,000 population in the last seven days, including Rhondda Cynon Taf (135.5), Merthyr Tydfil (147.5) and Blaenau Gwent (167.5) which now has the most cases per head in Wales.

The rates in Swansea (49.8), Carmarthenshire (47.1) and Cardiff (38.2) are now also rising rapidly, close to the level at which local lockdowns have been brought in.

The Wales average per 100,000 population is now at 43.2 - up from 38.9 the day before.

Get all of today's important stats here.

A further 348 cases of coronavirus recorded in Wales

Cases of coronavirus have jumped by 348 in Wales today (September 24), according to the latest data from Public Health Wales.

This brings the total number of lab-confirmed cases in the country to 21,896.

One further person has also died after testing positive for the virus.

That's all for today from The Chancellor

That's all for today from Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

'Tragedy' that 700,000 people have already lost their jobs

Mr Sunak said it is a tragedy that 700,000 people have already lost their jobs and more eventually will.

He said the Government needs to help these people find jobs, and this is why they have provided incentives for companies to take on new staff through the apprenticeship scheme.

'The nature of our response has to change' 

Asked about how the UK plans to get its borrowing under control, the Chancellor said: "As we move our way through this crisis, the nature of our response has to change.

"It is simply not sustainable or affordable to continue to provide the level of support that we did at the beginning of this crisis."

He said it won't be possible moving forward to do everything everyone needs, but that the Government will focus on where it will make the most difference.

He said he will work as quickly as possible to get the economy going again, adding that we must eventually "get our borrowing under control and eventually get our debt falling again".

What social security safety net will be in place?

Asked about whether he can say more about about what social security safety net will be in place for those who aren't in jobs classed as viable moving forward, the Chancellor said decisions for the exact operation of the welfare system are not his to make, but "as we go through it we will make sure we adjust and tailor our support to the needs of the moment".

What help will there be for the arts and creative industries?

Asked about what is planned to further support the arts and creative industries, Mr Sunak said these industries have already been provided with over a £1.5b to support vital institutions.

He said it is important now that support is focused on companies that can provide viable jobs with a secure future for employees.

The Government is being "generous" with its support, he said, but making sure its targeted where it can do the most good.

Support for hospitality and tourism sectors

Mr Sunak said the final step he will be taking today will support two of the most affected sectors: hospitality and tourism.

He said VAT rates were to increase from five percent to 20 percent on January 13.

He said to support more than 150,000 businesses and protect jobs over winter, he will be cancelling the planned increased until March 31 next year.

Repayments halved and credit ratings protected

Mr Sunak said he will be introducing 'Pay as you Grow'.

This means loans can now be extended from 6 to 10 years, nearly halving the average monthly repayment for businesses.

He said businesses can also choose to make interest-only payments if they need to.

Additionally, no businesses will see their credit rating affected as a result, he said.

Mr Sunak said more than 60,000 small and medium sized businesses have taken out coronavirus business interruption loans.

He said he will now extend the Government guarantee on these loans for up to 10 years.

He is also extending the deadline of all loan schemes until the end of this year, he said.

There is also work starting work on a new successor loan guarantee programme set to being in January, he said.

Helping businesses with cash flow is 'major challenge'

Mr Sunak said the second major challenge is helping businesses with cash flow.

He said over the past six months, the UK Government has supported businesses with tax deferrals and bank loans.

"Those policies have been a lifeline," he said.

"But right now businesses need every extra pound to protect jobs rather than repaying loans."

Self employed grant extended

Mr Sunak said he is also extending the existing self employed grant on similar terms and conditions as the new jobs support scheme.

"These are radical interventions in the UK labour market," he said.

He said together with the job retention bonus, the kickstart scheme for young people, new investment in trading and apprentices, millions of jobs and businesses will be protected.

New jobs support scheme announced

Mr Sunak said he is today announcing the new jobs support scheme.

The Government will directly support wages of people in work, giving businesses the option of keeping employees in work in shorter hours rather than making them redundant.

He said this will support "viable jobs".

Employees must work at least a third of their normal hours and be paid by their employer for that time. The Government will then cover two-thirds of the pay they have lost by reducing their working hours.

He said it will target support at firms who need it the most.

All small and medium size businesses are eligible, and large firms as well when their turnover has fallen.

He said it will be open for six months and is available to businesses even if they have also used the furlough scheme.

'I cannot save every business'

"As I've said throughout this crisis I cannot save every business," Mr Sunak said.

He added: "I cannot save every jobs. No Chancellor could."

But he said what the UK can and must do is deal with the "real problems businesses and employees are facing now".

He said today the problem is different than it was at the start of the pandemic.

Many businesses are operating "safely and viably", he said, but face uncertainty and reduced demand over the winter months.

He said businesses now need support to bring people back to work.

'No harder choice' than to end furlough scheme

Mr Sunak said there has been "no harder choice than the decision to end the furlough scheme".

He said it was the right policy at the time, providing immediate short term protection for jobs.

But as the economy reopens, he said it is fundamentally wrong to hold people in jobs that "only exist inside the furlough."

The Chancellor said we now need to create new opportunities and move forward.

'The virus and restrictions are going to be a fact of our lives'

Mr Sunak said: "Back in March we hoped we were facing a temporary period of disruption."

But he said it is now clear, as the Prime Minister and our scientific advisors have said, for at least the next six months.

"The virus and restrictions are going to be a fact of our lives," he said, adding: "Our economy is now likely to undergo a more permanent adjustment."

He said jobs need to adapt to the new normal and our plan must adapt as well.

Output remains well below where it was in February

Mr Sunak said output remains well below where it was in February.

He said the UK has seen three consecutive months of growth and millions of people have moved off the furlough scheme and are back to work.

"Our task now is to move to the next stage of our economic plan, nurturing the recovery by protecting jobs through the difficult winter months," he said.

He said the UK's underlying rationale must be different to what came before, but the primary goal - to support people's jobs - remains unchanged.

But the way we achieve this must evolve, he said.

The Chancellor is now addressing the Commons

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has begun to address the Commons.

He said the First Minister has set out the next stage of the government's health response, but he will today provide the planned economic response.

He said the House will be reassured to know he has been planning to protect jobs and the economy over the winter period.

"I know people are anxious and afraid and exhausted at the prospect of further restrictions on our economy and social freedoms," he said.

But he added that the UK is in a fundamentally different position that it was in in March.

He said we now know more about the virus and we have met the promise to give the NHS whatever it needs.

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