Short, Sharp Lockdown: The Firebreak Explained
From 6pm on Friday, 23rd October Wales will be going into a “sharp and deep” lockdown until 9th November. Everyone in Wales will be expected to stick to new rules set by the Welsh Government. If you’re confused then we have a breakdown of exactly what this Firebreak means to you.
This article is also available in Welsh – I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg – clicia yma
We have lots of articles with information and advice about Covid-19 – check them out here.
What’s does Firebreak mean?
Think of a fire in a forest. It needs trees to keep burning. If we chop down a patch of trees before the fire gets to it, then it can’t keep on burning. The fire will slow down and burn out, therefore saving the rest of the forest.
If Covid-19 is the fire, and we are the trees, then if you limit the amount of contact we have with each other (creating a gap in the trees) then the virus won’t be able to spread as easily from one person to another. This will bring down the numbers and create less pressure on the NHS. If numbers continue to increase as they are, then the NHS will reach a point where they can’t cope anymore meaning that more lives be at risk. If numbers are kept down the NHS can treat the people who need their help the most.
So what is a Firebreak lockdown?
The Firebreak lockdown in Wales is 17 days of strict Coronavirus measures. The hope is that bringing the numbers down now means that we won’t have to go into a longer and more severe lockdown like we did at the beginning of the year. It’s been described as a “short, sharp, shock”.
As schools are having a half term break anyway then it’s a good time to introduce the lockdown. This means it has less impact on your education.
So how does this affect education or work?
If you are in primary school or years 7 or 8 then you’ll be going back to school as normal after half term. Welsh Government have said that “education must continue”. This is one of their top priorities so that you don’t fall behind.
If you’re year 9+ in secondary school or in college then you’ll be learning online for a week following half term. If you’re taking exams then you’ll still be allowed to go into school for these. Apprenticeships and traineeships will also be online only.
University students will be having a mixture of face-to-face and online lessons (blended learning).
Key workers and those that can’t work from home will be allowed to go to work. Eberybody else has to stay at home.
What else does it involve?
Non-essential shops, and services will close like they did back in March.
You won’t be allowed to meet with anyone that you don’t live with, indoors or outdoors.
Unfortunately you won’t be able to go out trick or treating or watch a public firework or bonfire display either. You could try and think of some creative ways of celebrating these things at home. What about having a zoom costume party, or watching a scary movie with family?
When am I allowed to go out?
You can exercise outside for as long as you want each day. This is important for your physical and mental health. But this should be done locally (starting and finishing at your home). You can only exercise alone or with other people you live with.
You are allowed out to get essential supplies, medical treatment, attend school, donate blood, for a funeral or wedding (if you’re invited), or to escape risk of illness or injury (such as a victim of domestic abuse).
If you live alone or you’re a single parent then you’ll be allowed to bubble up with one other family. You’ll also be able to care for a vulnerable person including shopping or getting medicine for them.
If you’re homeless then your local authority should find you emergency accommodation. Contact Shelter Cymru if you need advice and help.
Why should I do this?
Coronavirus spreads when people are close to each other. To bring numbers down people need to keep away from each other, which is why we’ve been social distancing, creating year bubbles in school etc. But when the Coronavirus figures get worryingly high like they are now, something drastic has to be done.
We might all be fed up with Coronavirus at this point. The thought of having to stay at home again might be really difficult for some of you. Just remember that this is a short, sharp tactic, which means it is drastic measures for 17 days. There will probably be some new Covid rules for Wales at the end of this Firebreak, but serious action is being taken now to try and avoid a much longer lockdown later. Hopefully it means that we won’t have to have tighter restrictions at Christmas.
The police have fining and prosecution powers for those that break the rules, but the Welsh Government really want people to think about their own actions. Ask yourself why this is necessary. Consider what you can do to make this Firebreak a success.
If you’re struggling, if you have questions or if you just need to talk, then Meic is here for you every day, between 8am and midnight. Call, text or chat to us online.