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The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

First published:
24 March 2020
Last updated:

1. Introduction

The Welsh Government is responsible for the public health response to the coronavirus in Wales. 

It is doing this by exercising its legal powers to make Regulations imposing restrictions or requirements on people with the purpose of preventing, protecting against and controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of coronavirus in Wales.

The restrictions and requirements set out in the Welsh legislation are different in some respects from those elsewhere in the UK, so it is important you understand the law and guidance as applying in Wales. 

When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the Welsh Government has introduced a number of measures including:

  • requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  • closing certain businesses and venues
  • stopping all gatherings of more than 2 people in public, except when they are members of the same household or for certain other specific exceptions

Every person in Wales must comply with these new measures. The  police have been given the powers to enforce the measures requiring people to remain at home and not to gather in public – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

Ministers have a duty to review these restrictions every 3 weeks.

2. Staying at home

You should only be outside of your home for very limited reasons, referred to in the Regulations as a reasonable excuse, which include:

  • the need to obtain supplies and services for you or your household, for example food, medicine, and essential household maintenance, we encourage everyone to make this as infrequently as possible
  • exercise, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household (or a carer). This must be done locally. Please see the guidance on exercise for more information
  • to visit your GP or local health services, including the dentist
  • to  deposit and withdraw money from a bank or similar establishment
  • to provide care for or to help a vulnerable person, this includes getting food or medicines for them
  • help the NHS by donating blood
  • to avoid injury or illness
  • travelling to and from work, but only where it is not reasonably practicable to work from home
  • visit a cemetery, burial ground or garden of remembrance to pay your respects
  • to attend a funeral if you are invited by the person organising the funeral, or are the carer of a person attending the funeral, although this is subject to limits on numbers who can attend, in order to ensure that 2-metre distancing can be kept
  • making use of a recycling or waste disposal facility, or visiting a library, garden centre or plant nurseries

You should try to minimise time spent outside of the home and ensure you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

These measures must be followed by everyone. Separate advice is available for individuals or households who are isolating, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded. Where parents (or anyone who has parental responsibility or cares for a child) do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ or those people’s homes.

The government has also identified a number of critical workers whose children can still go to school or their childcare provider. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work providing you cannot reasonably work from home.

Critical workers and parents of vulnerable children may leave the house to take children to and from school or their childcare provider.

Other critical public services – such as social services, support for victims, support provided by the Department for Work and Pensions, or the justice system – should  accessed remotely whenever possible, but you can leave the house to access them when physical attendance is necessary.

Moving house is allowed, but only where it cannot be postponed.

3. Closing certain businesses and venues

To reduce social and/or physical contact, the Welsh Government has imposed requirements on certain businesses and venues to close. Please see the business closures guidance for more information.

4. Stopping public gatherings

To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the government is also prohibiting all public gatherings of more than 2 people.

There are only exceptions to this restriction for very limited purposes:

  • where the gathering is of a group of people from the same household - this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home
  • where the gathering is essential for work purposes - but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace
  • to attend a funeral (where invited by the person organising the funeral)
  • to facilitate a house move
  • to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
  • to provide emergency assistance
  • to participate in legal proceedings or to fulfil a legal obligation

In addition, the Welsh Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies, in places of worship. This excludes funerals.

5. Going to work

As set out in the section on staying at home, you can travel for work purposes, but only where it is not reasonably practicable to work from home.

With the exception of the organisations covered in the guidance on businesses closures the government has not required any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.  However, new requirements came into force on 7 April which means that all businesses and persons responsible for work which is being carried out on premises to take all reasonable measures to ensure that 2 metres distance is kept between all people on those premises (except members of the same household e.g. where a tradesperson is carrying out repairs in someone’s home).  This includes work being carried out both indoors and outdoors.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take steps to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

Sometimes this will not be possible, as not everyone can work from home. Certain jobs require people to travel to, from, and for their work.

If you cannot work from home then you can still travel for work purposes, providing you are not showing coronavirus symptoms and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. Please see the self-isolation guidance for more information.

Employers who have people in their offices or onsite are recommended to follow the employers and businesses guidance including, where possible, employees frequently washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

Employers will also have to consider other legal obligations under Health and Safety legislation to reduce risks of harm to health.

Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, providing that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. Similar to other businesses, reasonable measures to ensure a 2 metre distancing between people need to be put in place by those responsible for the work (other than in relation to the members of the same household themselves).

It is recommended that no work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health Wales can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

As set out in the section on closing certain businesses and venues, the Government has published guidance on which organisations are covered by this requirement. Advice for employees of these organisations on employment and financial support is available at gov.uk/coronavirus.

At all times, workers should follow the guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household shows symptoms.

6. Complying with the restrictions

These measures will reduce our day-to-day contact with other people. They are a vital part of our efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus.

Everyone must comply with the legal requirements.

The police have powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply.  Separately local authorities, National Park authorities have powers to enforce footpath closures.

These measures will be reviewed by the Welsh Ministers every 21 days. If you leave your home other than for a reasonable excuse, or gather in public, the police may:

  • instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse
  • instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules if they have already done so
  • take you home – or arrest you – if you do not follow their instructions or where they deem it necessary

The police have powers to enforce compliance with Regulations and will act with discretion and common sense in applying these measures and we expect the public to act responsibly, staying at home in order to save lives.

However, if the police believe that you have broken these rules – or if you refuse to follow their instructions – they may issue you with a fixed penalty notice for £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days). This is doubled for each subsequent breach to a maximum of £1,920 for the sixth and any subsequent case. If prosecuted, however, a court can impose any fine (it is not limited). Local authorities and National Park authorities have similar powers in respect of people who are unlawfully on public footpaths which have been closed.

The government will keep this under review and will increase the penalties if it becomes clear that this is necessary to ensure compliance.

Similarly, a business or venue operating in contravention with these measures will be committing an offence. Local authorities (for example, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers) will monitor compliance, with support from the police if appropriate.

If you do not pay, you may also be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.

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