Guidance on regulation 8 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.
Since 22 August 2020, you have been allowed to form an exclusive extended household with up to 3 other households, including the ability to stay in those other households overnight.
The general rule is that you cannot meet socially with people who aren’t in your extended household indoors. In addition, as of 14 September, meetings or gatherings indoors even within your extended household must be limited to 6 people (not including any children aged under 11). This applies in places like pubs and restaurants as well as in people’s homes.
We were able to relax the restrictions as the spread of the virus had slowed in Wales and the number of new cases of the virus continue to be low. But coronavirus has not gone away. We must all continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones and keep Wales safe. This is why the further limitations were made in September.
This guidance sets out the limited circumstances in which it may be allowed to meet people outside your extended household. In general, we are asking people to consider not just what they can do – what the law allows them to do – but what they should do – what is the right thing to do to minimise the spread of coronavirus. This advice will help you understand how to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus.
Stricter rules apply in the Caerphilly County Borough area, where extended household are not allowed at present. This means that if you live in that area you are not allowed to meet socially indoors with anyone you don’t live with.
Leaving your home
Coronavirus is spread by large droplets and aerosol transmission from breath, especially if sneezing, coughing or talking loudly, from the mouth and nose. This means close contact with others, in particular face-to-face contact within 2 metres, is most likely to cause infection. The virus can live on some indoor surfaces for days and may be spread by people touching those surfaces, then touching their mouth or nose with unwashed hands. The virus is much less likely to be spread outside, although this depends in part on the weather conditions, and disperses more in well ventilated environments. The virus dies quickly in the summer sun.
Before leaving your home you should plan how you will keep safe and minimise risk. Frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitiser gel remains important, as do social distancing and refraining from touching your nose/mouth with unwashed hands. You should also be mindful of whether you will be indoors or outside.
Even outside there are still risks in places used by many people, or where they may congregate, such as public toilets – where many people may touch taps and flush handles, cafes – especially use of things that many others touch such as sauces and condiments - petrol pumps, pay and display machines, door handles, and cash machines.
Disinfectant gel dispensers may also transmit infection if many hands operate them, so should be operated with the wrist/forearm rather than fingers/palm of hand.
It is important large crowds, anti-social behaviour and illegal gatherings are prevented – as these could help to spread the virus.
We are still advising people to avoid places where many people tend to come together in large numbers with no controlling presence. Some popular car parks will either stay closed or have strict limitations on their use. Car parks near beaches and tourist sites, and within national parks, in particular may be closed. Car parks may also have reduced opening hours and reduced capacity. Other local parking restrictions or road closures may also be in place. We advise checking before travel where possible.
Gatherings of up to 30 people are permitted outdoors. Adults and children should continue to maintain social distancing whenever possible from people outside their household, or extended household if they have formed one.
However for young children (those of primary school age or younger), it is less essential to attempt to rigidly maintain continual 2 metre distance between them, or between the children and any adults outside their household or extended household. This is in part because younger children cannot understand the concept of social distancing, but also because studies have found that young children are less likely to transmit the virus, whether to other children or to adults, and the virus appears to take a milder course in children than in adults for most cases.
That said, care should be taken to follow hygiene measures and keep close contact to a minimum where possible.
Organised outdoor activities, including team sports and classes, involving up to 30 people are also allowed to take place. If this is being organised in a work setting, the person responsible has a duty to carry out an appropriate risk assessment in advance and take all reasonable measures to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus. Those organising such events will generally hold a duty of care to those attending the gathering, which means they should ensure the event is as safe as possible.
There are also some very limited circumstances where gatherings of over 30 people are permitted. For example, supervised recreation for children is a legitimate purpose for gatherings of more than 30 people. This includes childcare provision and summer camps.
Visiting people indoors
Coronavirus spreads much more easily indoors, because it can survive in the atmosphere and on surfaces for a very long time without direct sunshine and adequate ventilation.
Welsh law imposes restrictions on people gathering indoors with others without a reasonable excuse (certain of which are listed in the Regulations). This means people should not generally enter each other’s homes outside their extended household. This includes young children.
Caring for others
The main exception to this general rule is that you can enter people’s homes or let people into your home to provide care or to help someone who needs it, such as an older person, a child or a vulnerable adult. This covers any form of care, provided by any person, to somebody who is vulnerable.
Whether somebody is “vulnerable” follows the ordinary sense of the word but the Regulations make it clear that this includes any child and (due to the specific nature of coronavirus) any person who is 70 or older or those who have one of a number of underlying medical conditions. It is also reasonable to take food and other supplies to a vulnerable person.
However, although caring for a vulnerable person is allowed, if somebody is considered to be at increased risk from the effects of coronavirus, or extremely vulnerable you should take this into account before going to see them. It is vital that the risk of spreading coronavirus is minimised in such situations.
Even for non-carers, if there are compassionate reasons for visiting someone, you may still have a reasonable excuse to see people outside your extended household indoors.
You may have compassionate reasons for visiting someone where that person is struggling with the lockdown generally or they may be suffering from a physical or mental illness, have suffered a bereavement or you may be concerned about their general wellbeing or welfare.
Other examples of things that may be allowed, include visits to people living or staying in care homes, in supported living services, in hospices, or in children’s homes or young offender institutions. In each case, the service provider will need to put in place appropriate social distancing and safety measures before allowing visits, and you should contact them before travelling.
Other indoor activity
Other reasonable excuses for gathering indoors with people outside your extended household if needed include:
- For work, though all those who can work from home must continue to do so wherever reasonably practicable
- To visit health services, including veterinary services
- To help the NHS by donating blood
- To avoid injury or illness, or escape a risk of harm
- As part of a visit to a cemetery, burial ground or garden of remembrance to pay your respects
- To attend a funeral if you are organising it, are invited by the person organising the funeral, or are the carer of a person attending the funeral (or also to attend an event marking someone’s life, such as a wake)
- To attend marriage or civil partnership ceremonies and/or celebrations, if invited
- To attend a place of worship
- To exercise in a group of up to 30 people in an organised activity managed by a gym, leisure centre, swimming pool or similar
Where you do need to be indoors for any of these purposes, it is very important you follow guidance on social distancing, cough and cold hygiene and follow the rules on face coverings in indoor public places. You should also continue to wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitiser gel. You should only attend if completely well, and if any symptoms of viral illness it would be advisable to remain at home. The same is true if you have been informed that you may be a contact of a case.
Where a reasonable excuse does not apply, it is still not permitted to arrange to meet people outside your household or extended household to go anywhere indoors together, such as shops, cafes, restaurants, bars or pubs. Likewise, you should not arrange for children to go somewhere indoors together, such as cinemas or amusement arcades, unless they are part of the same household or extended household.