‘Frustration’ as county’s lockdown set to begin

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Rhondda residents have expressed their concerns about coronavirus as the county returns to lockdown

People in Rhondda Cynon Taf have expressed their frustration after being thrown back into lockdown.

From 18:00 BST on Thursday, the county will become the second area in Wales to return to lockdown because of rising coronavirus rates.

The 240,000 people living there will have strict rules imposed on their daily lives.

They will not be able to enter or leave the county without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education.

People will be banned from meeting those outside their own households indoors and pubs, bars and restaurants will have to shut by 23:00.

Colin Edrop, who owns The Bear Inn, in Llantrisant, said: “I’m not surprised, but it is frustrating because Llantrisant has been safe enough recently and other areas in RCT have made things worse.

“Shutting at 11 doesn’t make a difference in my opinion, If people are going to get drunk they’ll do it regardless.

“I would rather pubs be asked to close for two or three weeks so we can sort this all out.”

'Frustration' as county's lockdown set to begin

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Media captionRhondda Cynon Taf lockdown: ‘It’s got to happen’

Mr Edrop said he would be “happy to close if asked”, but added: “We need to be making money, so I will remain open with strict safety measures.”

“We’re definitely not seeing groups of youngsters in our local area, certainly not seeing that – we have a much older crowd thankfully.

“But it is a nightmare to maintain social distancing, people have forgotten about social distancing.”

He said he may start checking people’s temperatures.

“It’s been really tough, we’re doing our best and at the moment we’re just about ticking over,” he added. 

“The furlough scheme needs to be extended, otherwise lots of pubs and restaurants won’t survive.

“Personally I think we can get through the next 12 months, but longer term like this would be a struggle.”

He said he did not know how they could get through Christmas safely.

“I think pubs should close for two weeks over Christmas to keep people safe,” he said. “If it breaks out again, the NHS won’t cope.”

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The lockdown will be reviewed by the Welsh Government in two weeks’ time

Mum-of-two Victoria Vaughan, from Pontypridd, said she thought the move was “too little too late”.

“I’m not surprised that a local lockdown is coming, as I think the guidance over the past few weeks has been too relaxed and people have been complacent,” she said.

“The guidance is very unclear, there’s confusion over what we can and can’t do, but at the moment it’s still not firm enough in my view.”

Ms Vaughan said it made “no sense” she could not see family but could go to the pub.

“Pubs should close, that’s where the problem is, the guidance needs to be black or white – at the moment it’s grey,” she said.

“I rely heavily on my mum for child care, she lives in Cardiff. If we can’t see her, that will have a detrimental impact on my ability to work from home.

“If childcare is covered in the essential travel then it’s workable, but if not then it could become really difficult.”

Teleri Jones, who owns The Old Library Cafe in Porth, said: “I welcome the announcement in the hope that we can protect the health of residents. Obviously it’s bad news for businesses.”

She said she had noticed a change in people’s behaviour recently: “People have been worrying, especially those with health issues.

“They had been staying away, then gradually we saw them come back. But last week was much quieter, and with all the talk on the news I can see it being even quieter this week.”

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said some people not following Covid-19 guidelines had led to the spike.

He told BBC Radio Wales: “There must be some people who think they have got some kind of magic cloak of invisibility which means the virus won’t touch them or anyone they know or love… and we’ve got some people who go into anarchy mode and decided they’re going to do whatever they want to do.

“If the UK government doesn’t get on top of this testing issue we will lose control of the virus… if we lose control then we lose control of the NHS… as we go into the winter that could be very dangerous.”

Plaid Cymru councillor for Ystrad, Elyn Stephens, told BBC Radio Wales there was an “overwhelming sense of frustration with the pubs remaining open”.

He said: “The fact they’ve been asked to close at 11pm has almost made it worse because obviously restrictions were needed on the pubs and closing them at 11pm won’t make the difference that people were hoping for.

“You could either go for a lot earlier curfew because you can drink the same amount by 7pm that you can by 11.”

He said some residents were now in their second lockdown after being flooded four times this year: “There is that sense that we got to get through it and roll our sleeves up… but I do worry how long we can keep doing that for.”

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said there had been a “rapid” rise in cases in RCT, with 82.1 infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

The latest equivalent figure across Wales was 21.4 per 100,000.

Wednesday’s rate of positive tests for the past week in RCT was 5.1% – the highest in Wales. Mr Gething previously warned a positive rate of 4% across Wales would trigger a national lockdown.

The Wales average is 2.4%.

Figures on Wednesday showed RCT’s case rate had almost caught up with Caerphilly, which had 83.4 per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

The restrictions have been imposed despite people in RCT having been asked to take extra precautions last week.

A review into the lockdown will be held in two weeks.

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Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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