// Wales to enter a national lockdown for two weeks from this Friday night
// All non-essential retailers will be forced to shut until November 9
Non-essential in retailers in Wales will be forced to shut from Friday as the country goes into a national firebreak lockdown for two weeks.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford appealed to the nation to “come together” and “play our part in a common endeavour” during the latest round of measures to come into force from 6pm Friday.
The restrictions, which will require people to stay at home and non-essential businesses like pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops to be closed, will last until November 9.
Gatherings indoors and outdoors with people not in a single household will also be banned.
The “sharp and deep” lockdown will be brought in to coincide with the school half-term.
Businesses affected by the firebreak lockdown will be supported with a fund of almost £300 million, which will open next week.
Every business covered by the small business rates relief will receive a £1000 payment, while small and medium-sized retail businesses that have to close will receive a one-off £5000 payment.
Drakeford said he had written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask for Welsh businesses to be given early access to the Job Support Scheme from Friday, ahead of its official launch it on November 1.
However, Sunak declined the request by Monday evening, meaning businesses will now have to access both the outgoing Job Retention Scheme and the new Job Support Scheme at different points during the firebreak period.
The new firebreak lockdown in Wales follows a report from the Welsh Government’s Tactical Advisory Group, which said it would “massively reduce” Covid-19 transmission in Wales and prevent hundreds of deaths.
On Monday, Drakeford said the lockdown was the best chance the country had of regaining control of the virus and avoiding “a much more damaging national lockdown”.
Local lockdowns are already in force in 17 areas of Wales.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so far resisted imposing a similar short-term national lockdown in England, and has previously stated that retailers would exempt from local lockdown measures.
with PA Wires