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Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advice

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:09 pm

The way Italy handled second
wave is a lesson for us all

Giulio Gambino remembers that it was the images of hospitals in Bergamo back in March, with patients hooked up to ventilators and gasping for air, that got Italians to take the pandemic seriously. "I think the images coming out of Lombardy shocked people," he says. "There was a big, big fear. After that, people really accepted being locked down."

Back when Italy detected its first cases of Covid-19, Gambino, editor of Rome-based online newspaper TPI, remembers that Italians reacted similarly to many other countries – some blamed China, nobody wanted to go into lockdown and, many, even political leaders, were saying it was just the flu.

This was back at the end of January, when Italy declared a state of emergency and became the first country to block flights from China. "We can reassure all the citizens, the situation is under control," Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte told the nation at the time. This turned out to be incorrect. By March 9, Italy had 9,172 cases and became the first country in the world to enter nationwide lockdown. In two days, it would have the second-highest number of infections outside China, with 827 Italians dead. By March 22, as factories closed, a similar number were dying every day and the country had 59,138 cases.

But now, while cases have spiked in other European countries, Italy is a picture of relative stability. The country reported just 40.4 infections per 100,000 people in the last 14 days. This is far less than Spain (325.9), France (241.8) and the UK (117.9), and even compares well with Germany (32.1), one of the nations that has best dealt with the pandemic. Italy’s death rate is low, too, at 0.4 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 over the last 14 days, compared, for instance, to Spain’s 3.3 deaths. While the UK, France and Spain have have all had to implement local lockdowns of varying degrees, similar measures haven't been necessary in Italy at all.

Over August, the number of coronavirus infections increased steadily each week, particularly among young people, hitting more than 1,400 on a single day – as many cases as recorded in May. "At the very beginning of the summer, there was this explosion of people going out, wanting to get their lives back," says Gambino. But this possible second wave hasn’t yet come to pass. One reason for this success is that Italian residents may simply have been terrified into compliance. It was images like the ones that scared Gambino, as well the recognition that Italy still has the sixth highest death toll in the world, that have kept Italians cautious and compliant since coming out of lockdown.

Italians has been wearing their masks devoutly – back in June, according to an Imperial College London study, 84 per cent of Italians, would be willing to wear a face mask if the government advised them to; now the practise is mandatory and those who refuse to face fines of up to €3,000 (£2,700). YouGov statistics show that in Italy people tend to wear masks and face coverings as well as avoid crowded places more often than in other European countries.

Rules are also strict – waiters must wear masks and customers have always had to wear masks when inside and not eating. Masks remain mandatory outdoors in Lombardy. To tackle spread at busy nightlife spots, since August, the government has ordered that worn in all crowded places between 6pm and 6am.

Back in February, when a 38-year-old with a high temperature was allowed to return home and infect scores of Italians, including people in his local football team, and at the hospital where he was diagnosed, the Italian government was accused of incompetence. But now it should take credit – it instituted Europe’s first and longest lockdown, and Italians are generally pleased with the government’s response. In a survey from June 2020, most Italian interviewees (65 per cent) approved the government's response to the pandemic. Because of this competence, Gambino feels that the mood towards the government has been positive, which behavioural scientists say increases compliance.

Though the country is carrying out around three times less tests than the UK, Italy's testing system may also be more efficient than other countries – the country tests the entire social network of an infected person, regardless of whether they have been exposed, a great way to catch asymptomatic cases. "This strategy has clear limitations, as it cannot be sustained indefinitely, but may be one of the reasons that has limited transmission so far. Testing has recently been introduced at entry from at-risk countries too," says Ilaria Dorigatti, a lecturer at Imperial College London's School of Public Health. Rapid testing is also available at airports, train stations and schools.

But one worry is the coming winter. As is the case throughout the northern hemisphere, there is a genuine fear that the cold may push people inside and send cases soaring. "People tend to be outdoors a lot more in hotter southern European countries," says Gary McLean, a professor of molecular immunology at London Metropolitan University. "We know the virus doesn't transmit as well outside and tends to transmit very easily indoors." Still, the government has so far been proactive about monitoring the populace – according to the Financial Times, on September 28 police checked 50,602 people and 4,939 businesses – where remote work has been encouraged – sanctioning 227 individuals and ordering the closure of three companies.

But Italy is not out of the woods yet. Schools and universities reopened just a couple weeks ago, and new Covid-19 infections rose by over 2,500 on Thursday, the highest since April, though this is partly due to increased testing. But, so far, Italy has avoided a second lockdown. ... obal-en-GB
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic



Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Oct 15, 2020 11:48 pm

Symptoms of the Flu and Covid-19

With fears of a “twindemic” in the United States this fall, here’s a guide to understanding what’s making you feel terrible.

As influenza season approaches, some Americans, and especially parents, are worried that, if they or their children should become ill, it may not be easy to know which disease they have — the flu or Covid-19.

They are correct. Most symptoms of the two diseases are so similar that, short of a test — or two or three tests — it won’t be possible to know for sure. But there are some clues. (And it is possible to have both infections at the same time; some patients in China this year were found to have both.)

But first: get a flu shot

It is not yet clear whether the United States will have much of a flu season this year. Flu activity in the Southern Hemisphere, which is often predictive of activity in the United States, was 99 percent below normal during its winter. Epidemiologists believe that is because Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, Chileans and other residents of the southern half of the globe were wearing masks, staying several feet apart and washing their hands to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. Those same precautions also prevent flu transmission.

Because there are very few flights between the Southern Hemisphere and the United States right now, there may be no opportunity for the usual four seasonal influenza strains to “reseed” themselves among Americans. If they do, masks and social distancing should limit their spread.

Nonetheless, experts urge all Americans to get flu shots. Before it ended abruptly during lockdown, last year’s flu season was on track to be one of the worst in recent memory. The number of children who died was equal to that in the 2017-18 season, which was the worst since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking flu-season deaths in 1976.

If you catch the flu, experts say, having had the shot makes it much less likely that you will be hospitalized or die.

Because of the fears of a “twindemic,” flu shots were made in large numbers this year and distributed to pharmacies and doctors’ offices beginning in August, which is early. As of late last month, some doctors reported difficulty ordering as many as they want, but pharmacy chains say they are getting steady supplies. To find a flu shot, try or one of the chain pharmacy websites, such as

Assess the difference between a cold and the flu

There are at least 100 viruses that can cause the common cold, but only four that cause seasonal flu. Many people who catch colds assume they have the flu, but experts consistently say the same thing about how to tell the difference: “Flu makes you feel as if you were hit by a truck.” The fever, aches and headaches of a bad case of influenza are generally worse than a case of respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus or other common cold viruses.

Everyone knows the symptoms of the flu: fever, headaches, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, stuffed sinuses, coughing and sneezing — and, for infants, ear infections. Some victims, especially children, get diarrhea or vomiting too.

In severe cases, the most common complication is pneumonia. The typical signs of a flu pneumonia are shortness of breath, especially when you exert yourself, and unusually rapid breathing — doctors typically look for that in children — and sometimes pain in the chest or back.

Identify Covid-19 by its flulike symptoms

Knowing whether you have Covid-19 is much more complicated because there are so many different — and sometimes pretty wacky — symptoms, many of which echo those of the flu.

The most common symptoms are high fever, sometimes with chills, a dry cough and fatigue.

The one sign that really distinguishes the two infections is that many Covid-19 victims suddenly lose their sense of smell — not because they have a stuffy nose, but because they don’t register even strong odors like onions or coffee. Not all virus victims get anosmia, the formal name for loss of smell, but one study found that 87 percent did.

Less common symptoms include a sore throat, congestion, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and feeling somewhat out of breath when exerting yourself. Some victims have red or itchy eyes, and some get redness or blisters on their fingers or toes — so-called Covid toes, which resemble chilblains.

More dangerous symptoms — which mean you should get immediate medical attention — include serious breathing difficulty; pain or pressure in the chest; blue lips or blue face; confusion or incoherent answers to simple questions; and collapsing or losing consciousness.

Adding to the disease’s fearsome nature is that it can cause blood clots that lead to heart damage, brain damage and lung damage. And even some cases that appear mild or asymptomatic create signs of what doctors believe may be long-lasting heart damage.

Another unusual aspect of Covid is that people sometimes develop pneumonia without realizing how sick they are. Doctors are unsure why; one theory is that the air sacs in the lungs are damaged in a way that does not cause the buildup of carbon dioxide, which creates that “desperate for air” feeling.

Many doctors recommend buying a pulse oximeter, a fingertip device that measures oxygen levels in the blood. Multiple readings below 92 percent should trigger a call to a doctor. The earlier pneumonia is caught, the better the outcome.

Understand that Covid-19 symptoms in children are similar to those in adults.

Children generally get through Covid-19 with few problems; for the youngest ages, it is thought to be less dangerous than the flu.

Children have the same constellation of symptoms that adults do, although parents may be more likely to notice it when their youngsters have runny noses, red eyes and the exhausted crankiness that comes from just feeling terrible.

Dangerous symptoms include difficulty breathing, bluish lips, confusion or inability to wake up, and intense abdominal pains or inability to keep down any liquids. If there are any sign of these, it is important to get a child to a doctor or hospital quickly.

In very rare cases, children can get multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which is thought to be caused by an overactive immune response and can cause shock and organ failure.

But doctors emphasize that it is rare and that parents should realize it is highly unlikely their sick child has it.

Expect potential difficulties with testing

For Covid-19, symptoms can begin two to 14 days after exposure, but most begin five to seven days after it.

However, as with diseases like measles, you can start spreading the virus two days before you begin to feel sick. So if you think you might have been exposed, it is very important to warn others and isolate yourself from them as soon as you can, especially if they are older or medically fragile.

It is an axiom of general medicine that when one disease is sweeping through an area and a patient has its symptoms, it is usually safe to assume that’s what the patient has and begin treating it, rather than waiting for test results. So unless both the flu and the coronavirus begin circulating heavily at the same time in your city, do not be surprised if your doctor does not recommend a test.

And getting tested for the coronavirus can be tricky, especially with so many test delays. The PCR type is more accurate than 15-minute “rapid antigen tests,” but it can take hours or even days to return results, depending on whether it has to be sent away to a central lab.

One positive test probably means you are infected, but one negative test should not be trusted; too many things can go wrong. Two negative PCR tests taken at least 24 hours apart are a better indication of whether or not you are infection-free.

If your insurance company will pay for only one test, you might consider paying for the second one yourself for the peace of mind.

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:12 am

AI mask monitors now policing UK stores

CCTV that blocks people from entering a shop if they are not wearing a face covering is being set up across the UK

The cameras use artificial intelligence to determine whether a person walking towards the shop doors is wearing a mask in a bid to help staff tackle 'difficult' customers.

A screen fitted outside the shop's doors will display a green or red message to automatically allow or deny access to the person.

Customers who aren't wearing a mask will be refused entry automatically and the doors will remain shut.

The cameras use artificial intelligence to determine whether a person walking towards the shop doors (pictured) is wearing a mask in a bid to help staff tackle 'difficult' customers, who install CCTV systems across the UK for both home and commercial clients, said the technology will protect staff from difficult shoppers or 'potentially worse'.

But it has not been specified how the technology will work around those who are exempt from wearing a face mask.

Tom Ironside, Director of Regulations at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), told MailOnline:

'While technology can undoubtedly make a useful contribution, the important thing is we are all reasonable and respectful of one another and the rules.

'For safety of staff and customers we urge everyone to follow the safety measures being implemented in stores across the country.'

Meanwhile,'s James Ritchey said: 'The technology is just fantastic.

Whiteley's Garden Centre in Mirfield, near Kirklees, West Yorkshire, has already got the system up and running since last week.

They welcome 450 visitors a day, and staffing the door was a full-time job.

But since its installation, they have seen a 50 percent decrease in customer non-compliance.

The solution has been developed because it is now the responsibility of shops to protect both their own staff and the health of their customers.

Customers who aren't wearing a mask will be refused entry automatically and the doors will remain shut

Mr Ritchey added: 'Retailers are working so hard to stay open during these most difficult times, and this system means staff aren't in the firing line from customers unhappy about current restrictions.

'The other side of using an automated system is it gives customers worried about the virus confidence as they enter a tightly controlled secure Covid-19 store.'

It follows the revelation that more than 1,000 AI scanners are monitoring how close pedestrians get to each other in London, Manchester and other British cities to supply the government with data on social distancing.

The sensors were initially intended to track the flow of traffic, cyclists and walkers to work out how roads were being used, but after lockdown in March were fitted with the new feature.

Manufacturers Vivacity said the data is used to 'inform policy decisions', and in response to privacy concerns said that none of the footage is saved, streamed or used for enforcement purposes.

Its CEO Peter Mildon told BBC Radio Kent: 'They are not recording any footage, they are not streaming any footage and no one is actually watching it.

'We've trained an algorithm to be able to recognise what a pedestrian looks like as opposed to a cyclist or a van or truck.

'We're creating a set of statistics on how behaviour is changing in terms of how people are staying close together or apart.

'And it is that data that is then useful for informing policy decisions on whether there should be a two metre rule or a one metre plus rule or whether local lockdown measures are having the impact they are envisioned to.'

The sensors are also in operation in Oxford, Cambridge and Nottingham.

The issue of privacy was brought up at a Kent County Council scrutiny meeting on Tuesday after councillor Simon Jones revealed the cameras were 'in the pipeline' for the area, according to Kent Online.

Mr Mildon added: 'Even if Kent Council wanted to use them for enforcement purposes they wouldn't be able to.

'The [cameras] enable us to provide anonymous data on how the road is being used. There are huge benefits in understanding how that space is being used and how that can be improved or how it can be made safer.

'The idea is to provide an evidence base to check that the interventions that are being put in and are having the policy benefits that the council envisioned in the first place.'

The installation of CCTV cameras which use AI come after the rollout of facial recognition cameras last year, in places such as King's Cross, triggering privacy campaigners to claim Londoners are being monitored by 'Chinese-style surveillance'.

The developer behind the 67-acre site in the capital earlier admitted it had installed the technology, which can track tens of thousands of people every day.

Canary Wharf was in talks last year to install facial recognition across its 97-acre estate, which is home to major banks like Barclays, Credit Suisse and HSBC.

Big Brother Watch said the use of facial recognition on such a scale in the 'worst case scenario for privacy' and Liberty called it 'a disturbing expansion of mass surveillance' that threatens 'freedom of expression as we go about our everyday lives.'

Argent, the property developer for the King's Cross estate, previously said: 'These cameras use a number of detection and tracking methods, including facial recognition, but also have sophisticated systems in place to protect the privacy of the general public.'


Face masks must be worn on public transport and in many indoor spaces, including shops, shopping centres, indoor transport hubs, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.

It is currently the law for passengers to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles, in hospitality venues, like restaurants and bars, other than when you are eating and drinking. Staff in retail and hospitality settings are also legally required to wear face coverings.

If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £200 (halving to £100 if paid within 14 days).

It comes after the World Health Organisation and numerous studies suggested they are beneficial.

As announced, the Government will bring forward changes to mean that for repeat offenders these fines would double at each offence up to a maximum value of £6,400.

The Prime Minister has also announced tougher enforcement measures, with businesses facing fines or closure for failing to comply with coronavirus rules, meaning there will be consequences for pubs that try to serve you at the bar.

National Police Chiefs' Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: 'Individuals, businesses and households all have a responsibility to ensure the virus is suppressed and police will play their part in supporting the public to navigate the measures in place for our safety.

'Our approach of engaging with people and explaining the regulations in place will remain. The vast majority of situations are resolved following those two stages, with little need for further encouragement or enforcement action to be taken,' he said.

'Police will continue to work with their communities and only issue fines as a last resort.

'Chiefs will be stepping up patrols in high-risk areas and will proactively work with businesses, licensing authorities and local authorities to ensure the rules are being followed.

'If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to the police, who will consider the most appropriate response and will target the most problematic behaviour.' ... et-UK.html


Will this technology be able to tell the difference between a heavily bearded man and one wearing a face mask?
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:34 pm

French streets empty

The streets of Paris and eight other French cities were deserted on Saturday night as a new curfew was enforced

The controversial overnight curfew is aimed at curbing the soaring Covid infection rate in France, which is one of Europe's coronavirus hotspots.

There have been complaints from restaurant owners, whose businesses are already suffering after the two-month lockdown in the spring.

New measures are also to be announced in Italy due to a rise in cases.

Italy, which was the first European country to be hit significantly by Covid in the first wave, registered a record number of new daily cases on Saturday.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will announce fresh restrictions on Sunday.

Local media said the new rules could target non-essential activities including gyms, pools and amateur sporting events.

In France, about 20 million French people are covered by the month-long curfew in cities including Marseille, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse, as well as the capital. The curfew runs from 21:00 to 06:00 every night.

President Emmanuel Macron said the curfews were necessary to avoid the risk of hospitals being overrun.

But many are concerned about the effect it could have on businesses.

"There will surely be employees who will lose their jobs," Stefano Anselmo, manager of Italian restaurant Bianco in Paris told the Reuters news agency. "It's a disaster."

France reported a record number of new cases of the virus on Saturday - a rise of 32,427, the health ministry said. A day earlier the country recorded 25,086 new infections.

What is the other Covid news from Europe?

Slovakia's Prime Minister Igor Matovic has said the country will test every person aged 10 and older for coronavirus amid a surge in confirmed cases and deaths.

The government declared a state of emergency earlier this month, and introduced new restrictions this week - including a ban on church services and other mass events, the closure of fitness centres and pools, and a switch to remote learning for schools.

"Testing will be free of charge," Mr Matovic announced at a press conference, but didn't clarify whether it would be mandatory or voluntary.

"If we manage to pull this off, we can set an example for the entire world."

Slovakia has a population of 5.4 million.

Protesters attacked the offices of the Slovak government on Saturday over measures to stem the spread of Covid-19.

The crowd, made up of about 500 neo-Nazis and hardcore football fans, threw bottles and stones at the building in the capital Bratislava.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged people to stay at home as Covid cases continue to surge.

"We have to do everything to prevent the spread of the virus from getting out of control," she told a weekly video podcast.

"Every day counts. Meet with fewer people, either at home or outside. Please refrain from any journey that is not absolutely essential, every gathering that is not absolutely essential. Stay in your home, where at all possible."

Bars and restaurants in higher-risk areas now must close early.

Switzerland has reacted to a sharp increase in infections by making the wearing of face-coverings in indoor public spaces compulsory from Monday. Gatherings of more than 15 people in public are also banned.

Switzerland has seen a sharp increase in infectionsimage copyrightEPA
image captionSwitzerland has seen a sharp increase in infections

In the Netherlands, the royal family cut short a holiday in Greece amid intense criticism. They embarked on the controversial trip shortly after the government introduced a partial lockdown and urged people to travel as little as possible. PM Mark Rutte admitted he should have given better advice.

In a statement, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima said: "We see people's reactions to media reports. They are intense, and they affect us. We do not want to leave any doubt about it: to get the Covid-19 virus under control, it is necessary to follow the guidelines. The discussion of our holiday does not contribute to that."

In the country, all bars, restaurants and coffee shops closed on 14 October, except for takeaway, and households can only have a maximum of three guests per day.

Spain saw 11,000 more deaths between July and October than in the same period last year, according to El Pais newspaper. This is double the number of Covid deaths reported in these months - the official number from the health ministry is about 5,400.

Catalonia said restaurants in the region would only be allowed to serve takeaway. Gyms and cultural venues will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity, while shops and large shopping centres must be limited to 30% capacity.

What are the restrictions in other parts of Europe?

    On Thursday, Poland designated red zones where schools and gyms will close, including in the capital Warsaw

    Schools in Italy's southern Campania region, including the city of Naples, are to close for two weeks

    In Portugal, the government said gatherings would be limited to five people from Thursday. Weddings and baptisms can be attended by up to 50 people but university parties will be banned

    Movement is limited in the Russian capital Moscow, and from Monday senior schools (for children aged 13-18) will be closed
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:12 pm

Wales's circuit breaker lockdown

The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced a two-week national lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus


The “stay at home” circuit breaker comes into force at 6pm on Friday 23 October and will remain in place until the start of Monday 9 November. The Welsh government says it definitely will not be extended after this but cannot rule out more restrictions later this year or next.

Why have the measures been brought in?

The Labour-led government says a “strict and deep” circuit breaker is needed to prevent the NHS in Wales from being overwhelmed. The R number is at 1.4 and the seven-day rolling incidence rate stands at more than 120 cases per 100,000 population. The government argues that if it does not bring in the circuit breaker now even more extreme measures such as an open-ended lockdown could be needed. It says the time will be used to improve the test-and-trace system and prepare field hospitals.

Are the restrictions the strictest in the UK?

England has so far resisted a national circuit breaker, preferring its three-tiered system of restrictions. Northern Ireland has brought in a form of circuit breaker that covers the whole country but people there have more freedom to meet, shop and play sports than they will in Wales. Scotland has brought in strict restrictions for the central belt but, again, they are not as severe as the Welsh moves.

What has the reaction been to the Welsh circuit breaker?

The Tories in Wales are very critical. They claim this will be the first in a series of “rolling lockdowns” and argue it is not proportionate because some areas of Wales – such as parts of the west – have low levels of coronavirus. Plaid Cymru backs the move and has called for the nation to come together. Hospitality and tourism chiefs have expressed concern that it could lead to businesses collapsing and jobs being lost.

What will the restrictions be?

People must stay at home, except for very limited purposes. They must not visit other households or meet people they do not live with. Bars, pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops must close. Hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists and sports and massage therapists are required to shut. Libraries, golf and tennis clubs and refuse tips must close. Driving lessons and tests must be postponed. Places of worship will not be open to the public, other than for wedding or civil partnership ceremonies or funerals.

How will the circuit breaker be enforced?

People who breach the rules could face fixed penalty notices or fines but the government has said it expects the measures to be self-policed. It wants the country to act collectively in a “concerted national effort”.

Who will be able to leave home?

Key workers and people whose jobs mean they cannot operate from home can go to work. Others can only leave for very limited reasons including food shopping, picking up medicine, exercising – though this should start and finish from home whenever possible – hospital visits or to provide care.

Are people allowed to cross the border?

People can cross the border to work if they cannot do their job from home. But people are not allowed to travel around or into Wales for a holiday, nor can they visit second homes.

What about schools?

The Welsh government has repeatedly said it will do everything to keep children in education, but it has not quite been able to keep all schools open. Primary schools and childcare settings will be allowed to open but secondary schools will provide learning online only for the week after half-term, other than for children in years 7 and 8. Pupils will be able to come in to take exams.

What will happen in universities and colleges?

Universities are to be allowed to continue to provide a combination of in-person teaching and blended learning. All students living in Wales, and all Welsh students living elsewhere, are being asked not to travel between university and home unless absolutely necessary. Colleges will move to online-only provision for the week following half-term.

What support will be made available for businesses and people affected?

Businesses will be supported with a fund of almost £300m, which will open next week. Drakeford has written to the UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to ask for Welsh businesses to be given early access to the job support scheme from Friday. ... obal-en-GB
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:23 pm

France extends overnight curfew

The curfew is already in place in Paris and eight other major cities

France will extend an overnight curfew to dozens more areas in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced.

"The second wave is now under way," he said, shortly before the country announced a record 41,622 new cases.

The 21:00 to 06:00 curfew will come into force at midnight on Friday, and some 46 million people will now be affected by the measure.

Countries around Europe are struggling with rising infection rates.

France, Italy, Spain and the UK are all hotspots.

"The coming weeks will be hard and the number of deaths will continue to rise," Mr Castex told a press conference on Thursday. Over the last 24 hours France recorded 162 more deaths.

"If we fail to stop the pandemic, we will be facing a dire situation and we will have to mull much tougher measures," he added.

"We still have time to avoid that but we don't have much time," he said.

The prime minister's announcement came less than a week after the same curfew was applied to the Paris region and eight other cities, including Marseille, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse.

The restrictions will be extended to 38 more administrative departments as well as the overseas territory of Polynesia, and will remain in place for six weeks.

The overnight curfew has drawn complaints from restaurant owners, whose businesses are already suffering after the two-month lockdown in the spring.

But President Emmanuel Macron has said they are necessary to avoid the risk of hospitals being overrun.

France has reported more than 20,000 new cases over the past six days, and the total number of confirmed infections now stands at nearly one million.

Elsewhere in Europe:

    New "level 5" rules have come into force in Ireland - the highest level of Covid restrictions there. Its five million people have been ordered to stay at home for six weeks

    A second lockdown is in force in the Czech Republic which is facing a big surge in cases. Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the harsh restrictions were needed to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed

    Slovakia is closing schools until 27 November, imposing a week-long lockdown on its four most affected districts, a partial lockdown on the rest of the country, and embarking on two rounds of testing for the whole population, PM Igor Matovic said on Thursday

    Greece's prime minister has declared a night curfew in Athens and other areas. It will come into force from Saturday and applies between 00:30 and 05:00

    Germany has announced a record 11,287 daily number of infections. Health Minister Jens Spahn has himself caught coronavirus. The country also added the UK to its list of high risk countries from which visitors must quarantine

    In the UK, officials announced that the urban areas of Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough would move into tier two restrictions on Saturday. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in all of these areas the infection rate was over 100 per 100,000 people

    Italy's Lazio region around Rome has joined two other Italian regions in declaring overnight curfews. Lombardy in the north starts its curfew at 23:00 (21:00GMT) on Thursday, and Campania and Lazio will follow suit on Friday. Prof Walter Ricciardi, who advises the government on health, has warned that "some metropolitan areas like Milan, Naples and probably Rome are already out of control"

    Spain is the first EU country to record one million infections and the northern region of Navarre has imposed restrictions on movement. The Rioja wine region says it will do the same

    Belgium's 45-year-old Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes has been admitted to intensive care after testing positive for Covid-19 last week. Her spokeswoman said she was in a "stable" condition. Meanwhile, health workers have raised concerns over the rising number of cases in the country, with the head of a coronavirus testing centre in the city of Liège warning that the "situation is close to catastrophe"

    The Netherlands may begin transferring patients to Germany within two days as its health system faces increasing strain from coronavirus admissions, the hospital association LNAZ said. The Netherlands also registered more than 9,000 new cases in a new daily record
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:27 pm

Kettle Sales Banned in Wales

Police tonight revealed extraordinary plans to patrol the Anglo-Welsh border to stop families from crossing over for a half-term holiday as Wales is plunged into a two-week 'firebreak' lockdown

Drivers were seen crossing the border on the A494 at Queensferry and on the A5445 between Chester and Wrexham in a breach of new Covid-19 restrictions preventing motorists from crossing the 160-mile long border.

Officers will prevent caravans sneaking into England from Wales and deter Welsh motorists defying First Minister Mark Drakeford's 'power-mad' orders from making 'non-essential' journeys.

Gloucestershire Police announced an operation covering routes from Wales into the Forest of Dean where officers will stop motorists travelling into England to find out what they are doing.

Drivers will be encouraged to turn around and head back to Wales if officers 'are not satisfied with their explanation', a spokesman said. If they refuse, police will tell forces in Wales so that they can issue a fine.

The First Minister has threatened to use number plate recognition cameras to fine English drivers entering his country, announcing that he will bar entry from English regions with high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

But the Police Federation of England and Wales has revealed that the ban is 'unenforceable', adding that policing which is 'already over-stretched due to the pandemic' would be complicated by the measure.

The move comes as Wales was plunged into a draconian 'firebreak' lockdown at 6pm tonight which is expected to wreck the Welsh economy and prevent residents crossing into England without a 'reasonable' excuse.

Under the measures, which will last 17 days, people will be asked to stay at home and to leave only for a limited number of reasons, including exercise, buying essential supplies, or to seek or provide care.

In other coronavirus developments:

    Britain recorded 20,530 more coronavirus cases and 224 deaths as SAGE said the R rate has dropped;

    SAGE documents show that just one in 10 stay at home for two weeks after being told to self-isolate;

    Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland will move to a new five-level system of Covid-19 restrictions on November 2;

    Downing Street said families should gather for Christmas while a minister warned it will not be 'normal';

    Papers presented to the Government claim that Covid-19 is mutating, London is not seeing a spike in cases and patients are dying quicker in the second wave than they did in the first;

    New data revealed almost half of local authorities in England saw a drop in coronavirus infections last week;

    Experts claimed the UK could never eradicate Covid-19, even if it banned all international travel to the nation;

    Police stop drivers on Irish border to check if they're permitted to travel as lockdowns are imposed;

    Fake coronavirus marshals have been pretending to check for rule breaches and stealing from homes.
Officers will be enforcing Covid-19 restrictions over the weekend in a bid to clamp-down on motorists defying First Minister Mark Drakeford's 'power-mad' attempt to suppress the virus despite the travel ban being 'unenforceable'

Police officers were in Cardiff city centre this evening as Wales entered a 17-day 'firebreak' lockdown at 6pm

Supermarket staff in Wales covered up kettles and phone chargers on shelves as 'power mad' First Minister Mark Drakeford banned the sale of 'non-essential' items during the country's coronavirus firebreak lockdown

Lidl closed off all their 'non-essential' aisles in Porthmadog before 6pm today with the ban set to last for the full lockdown

Non-essential or essential? What we know about what goods are banned in Wales' lockdown firebreak

First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced that non-essential items should not be sold during the country's firebreak lockdown.

So far the Welsh government has not published a public list of what these goods include.

The supermarkets have also not responded on whether they have been given specific instructions on what they cannot sell.

But information gathered throughout today suggests these items cannot be sold during the 17 days of restrictions:

    Phone chargers
    Electrical products
A spokesman for Gloucestershire Constabulary said: 'While we cannot issue fines to those travelling from Wales into the county we can inform the host force of those we stop about what has happened so they can take action.

'Officers will be running an operation over the weekend that will cover routes from Wales into the Forest of Dean and if we stop someone travelling from Wales we will be engaging with them to find out why, explaining the legislation and encouraging them to turn around if we are not satisfied with their explanation.

The spokesman added: 'If they don't then turn around we will then inform the force that polices the area they have travelled from so that they can issue a fine.

'It is important to stress that the vast majority of people are abiding by the rules but in line with our policing approach, we will take action where there are flagrant breaches.'

He stressed: 'It isn't checkpoints. Officers will spend some time on the main routes into the Forest and will stop vehicles when there is a concern that the vehicle may have travelled some distance. They won't be stopping every vehicle.'

Anyone who refuses to pay could be taken to court and convicted, leaving them with a criminal record.

North Wales Police also announced extra patrols and 'increased visibility' across the force area over the weekend.

On behalf of the four Welsh Police Forces, Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Harrison, North Wales Police said: 'People should not be travelling between the areas facing local restrictions without defined reasonable excuses.

'This will include those that travel from other parts of the UK with high transmission rates.

'If you live in Wales in a non-restricted area you must not leave Wales to travel to other areas of the UK with high transmission rates – again without a reasonable excuse.

'All the actions we take and the effort we put in will be focussed towards limiting the spread of the virus, helping us all protect our loved ones, our communities and our vital health service.'

Both forces said they will not deploy officers to routinely patrol the border and not all vehicles crossing it will be stopped. But motorists should expect to see a heightened police presence.

Officers will be on the lookout for vehicles such as caravans or people towing pleasure boats who may be breaking the rules.

Chief Inspector Jeff Moses told Conwy council's economy and place scrutiny committee this week that officers were expecting to see a lot of caravans on the A55 as people try to beat the new restrictions.

Scientific advisers have been warned that the coronavirus is mutating and could become more infectious, according to SAGE papers published today.

The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) said the UK did not have the capability to research these mutations in depth and whether they would be harmful.

It's one of a number of papers released by the Government today that give an insight into how scientists are steering the pandemic.

The idea was explored in a scientific report handed to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which then presents the findings to the Government to help inform public health policy.

Another document shows how scientists have found that London has so far avoided a 'second wave' on the scale of those happening in other major cities in England, such as Liverpool and Manchester.

Experts speculate this is because more of the capital's population has some form of immunity to the coronavirus after having it already, compared to the North West, which did not have infections as high as London in the first wave.

Meanwhile data reveals hospitalised Covid-19 patients are dying quicker than they were the first time around - take a week on average, rather than two. This may be because treatment has improved, and therefore doctors can save the lives of those who are not as sick and would usually take longer to die, pushing up the average time.

'There's lots of work going on in the background as I am sure you're aware.' Gwent Police have also pledged to mount extra patrols across the force area.

But a spokesman said the focus will be on 'engaging with the community' rather than specifically patrolling the border.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Ian Roberts said: 'Across Gwent we will be carrying out additional patrols, in particular over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period.'

It comes as supermarket staff covered up kettles and phone chargers on shelves as Mr Drakeford banned the sale of 'non-essential' items during the country's coronavirus firebreak lockdown.

Tesco and Lidl workers became Wales' first 'trolley police' as they were seen hiding shelves of 'non-essential' products behind plastic sheets to stop customers buying them ahead of the start of the restrictions, which came in earlier this evening.

Plastic barriers and stacks of drinks crates were also set up to block off certain aisles while other items were taped off by staff as part of efforts to follow the draconian new rules.

At other major supermarkets, Sainsbury's said staff have been working 'around the clock' to put changes in place, while Waitrose said it was reviewing government guidance and Asda claimed it had been given 'very little time' to implement the new rules.

Four members of staff at a Tesco store in Pontypool could be seen inspecting the cover-up for a 20-minute trial run ahead of the latest restrictions coming into force, with witnesses admitting they'd 'never seen anything like it'.

Mr Drakeford described stopping supermarkets from selling non-essential products during the firebreak lockdown as 'a straightforward matter of fairness'.

Wales' Labour leader could not hide his frustration today as he was repeatedly questioned on the restrictions, which are now in force for 17 days. He said they were 'fair' and crucial to stop the spread of the virus.

He told a press conference in Cardiff that any suggestion that the ban, which was announced on Thursday, was based on his own politics was 'nonsensical'.

He said: 'We are requiring many hundreds of small businesses to close on the high street right across Wales.

'We cannot do that and then allow supermarkets to sell goods that those people are unable to sell.

'And we are looking to minimise the amount of time that people spend out of their homes during this two-week period.

'This is not the time to be browsing around supermarkets looking for non-essential goods.'

He said trying to find exceptions to the rules was 'just the wrong' approach and called on people in Wales to not use the firebreak to do things that they do not have to.

'It is a straightforward matter of fairness – we are in this together here in Wales,' he added.

Supermarket customers in Wales today claimed the sale of duvets, bedding and electricals had been stopped by Tesco staff who covered the shelves in plastic.

Tesco customer Jamie Cole, 31, said the aisle containing kettles and phone chargers was also 'completely closed off' despite them being 'needed' as temperatures nationwide begin to drop.

Mr Cole said: 'I was shocked, it's quite bad. Bedding should be available for kids and mothers. We're coming up to winter, it's cold outside, I couldn't believe it.

'I don't have kids of my own but my friend and my sister have kids, she's quite shocked too. They rely on Tesco as it's the only supermarket in our town.

'This was today at 10.49am, the restrictions don't come into effect until 6pm and all the other supermarkets are fine. The staff are only following orders, It's happened so quickly. They only announced it at about 7pm last night.

'I'm 30-odd and I've never seen anything like it in my life. You abide by the rules then they do this, it's quite intimidating. There was another aisle that was completely closed off too, that was the stationery aisle and electricals.

Supermarket swoop! Tesco staff in Wales block off clothes aisle too

Plastic sheets were placed over electrical items which are banned from being sold in this Welsh Asda store this evening

Pallets of stock block access to non essential goods at the Sainsburys store in Crindau, Newport at the start of the firebreak lockdown

Non-essential aisles in Asda at Coryton, Cardiff were blocked off to comply with the firebreak lockdown rules at 6pm

Children's clothes were wrapped in cellophane as they cannot be sold under the new firebreak lockdown regulations

Barriers were put up at this Asda store in the Welsh capital so customers couldn't access non-essential items, which are banned from being sold

Supermarket staff used a range of different obstacles to block off access to their aisles of non-essential products today

Crates of drinks were used to block off non-essential aisles at the Tesco store in Cardiff in order to follow the new rules

Staff stacked boxes of alcohol up in order to hide away non-essential items, which can't be sold under the new lockdown

Non-essential aisles were blocked off with a plastic barrier in this Tesco Extra store on Western Avenue, Cardiff today

Toys and other entertainment products were all cordoned off at the super store in the Welsh capital earlier today

Staff taped off products such as duvets at Tesco's store in Pontypool, with a sign reading: 'Sorry we are unable to sell these items due to government guidelines until November 9th'

A barrier was set up at a Tesco superstore in Swansea today as supermarkets are told to stop selling non-essential goods

The clothes aisle of the Tesco supermarket in Pontypool was blocked off after the sale on non-essential items was banned by the Welsh Government

First Minister Mark Drakeford told a press conference today that supermarkets would not be able to sell goods that small shops are unable to sell. Pictured: A Lidl aisle in Porthmadog that has been closed off by staff

A barrier was set up at a Tesco superstore in Swansea today as supermarkets are told to stop selling non-essential goods

A sign at a Lidl store in Porthmadog tells customers this afternoon 'we are not permitted to sell non-essential items'


Wales has pulled the trigger on a 17-day 'firebreak' lockdown after average daily infections more than tripled in a month.

The rolling seven-day average, considered the most accurate measure of outbreaks because it takes into account day-to-day fluctuations, was 238 on September 23.

It currently stands at 894, analysis of Public Health Wales figures reveal.

The weekly rate of infections per 100,000 in Wales has also jumped by nearly a quarter in a week.

It currently stands at 199.2, having risen from 160.6 last Friday.

The rate of 199.2 per 100,000 is considerably higher than Scotland's 161.2 but still below England's 213.6.

Northern Ireland - which has the smallest population in the UK, at 1.8million - has the highest rate of the home nations, at 378.6.

To get a sense of how fast Wales' crisis has been growing, it was recording just 3.7 cases per 100,000 a week in August, the lowest in the UK.

The nation's 761 new cases today takes the number of confirmed cases to 40,253.

A quarter of these were recorded in the last fortnight.

Since September 11 there have been 10,625 cases - though the true figure is thought to be much higher because so many people are asymptomatic or do not get tested.

'If you needed a kettle or phone charger, that aisle was completely closed off. I've done a bit of homework and there's no list of essential items on the Wales Government website.

'I guess it's the supermarket that decides what items are essential.'

A spokesperson for Tesco confirmed to MailOnline: 'Our colleagues across Wales will be working incredibly hard today so we can comply with the Welsh Government's ban on selling 'non-essential' goods to our customers from 6pm this evening.'

It came after Mr Drakeford snapped today as he was roasted over his ban on the shops selling the items in his lockdown.

The Labour First Minister could not hide his frustration as he was repeatedly questioned on the restrictions, which came into force at 6pm for 17 days.

He insisted they were 'fair' and crucial to stop the spread of the virus.

But when he was challenged over whether it was 'essential' for parents to buy new school trousers if their children ripped them, Mr Drakeford moaned: 'It is just the wrong way to approach this whole business.

'We are back to the ''how do you we get round the rules'' approach to coronavirus.'

He added tetchily: 'There is a bigger prize at stake here than whether you need to buy a candle or not.'

Mr Drakeford insisted that allowing supermarkets to keep selling clothes and other products while smaller retailers were shut would be unacceptable.

'We're all in this together here in Wales,' he told a press conference in Cardiff.

'This is not a period to be browsing around in supermarkets looking for non-essential goods.'

However, anger rose today as Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething made clear alcohol does count as a key item under the confusing new rules – but insisted hair dryers do not.

He also conceded that a 'line by line' list of what can be sold would be 'unusable', saying they were hoping retailers will have a 'grown up understanding'.

There are fears it will mean a return to the scenes witnessed at the beginning of the pandemic when there were rows over the contents of people's shopping trolleys.

Mr Drakeford said this afternoon that local restrictions had succeeded in stemming the spread of the virus, but were not 'turning it back'.

He compared the progress in place like Torfaen favourably with areas in England like Oldham. But he said the 'short sharp shock' of a lockdown was now essential.

'We have to act urgently now because the virus is rising too fast,' he said.

Many retailers will be forced to shut altogether during the 'firebreak' lockdown, but food shops and pharmacies can stay open.

During a bruising interview with Kay Burley on Sky News, Mr Gething said the Welsh government was producing 'categories' that are allowed to be sold.

'A supermarket selling clothes isn't essential... We are looking to have a grown up understanding with them about what they can do so they go ahead and do that.'

A road sign in the Welsh capital of Cardiff advised people that the new firebreak lockdown would begin at 6pm on Friday

A worker closes the front gate to a bar on St. Mary Street in Cardiff as the new lockdown rules came into effect at 6pm

Staff pack up tables and chairs outside a bar in the centre of Cardiff in order to abide by the new lockdown restrictions

Aworker closes the door to Pasture bar in Cardiff, which will not be able to reopen until November 9 under the new rules

A worker brings in furniture from Pasture bar in the Welsh capital as the draconian new lockdown measures come into force

Staff pack up tables and chairs outside a bar in the centre of Cardiff on Friday night, the start of the new draconian lockdown

Staff pack up tables and chairs outside a fish bar in the centre of Cardiff in order to follow the new lockdown regulations

A road sign in the Welsh capital of Cardiff advised people that the new firebreak lockdown would begin at 6pm on Friday

Cars at the border crossing between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as gardai conduct checks asking people the reason for their journey amid tightened coronavirus restrictions

A guard asks a British-registered driver where he's going after the Republic imposed a new national lockdown on Wednesday evening
Welsh 'fire break' lockdown rules

    Supermarkets can sell only 'essential items'

    Pubs and restaurants closed

    Only leave the house to shop for food, medicine or take exercise

    Household mixing banned indoors and outdoors

    Most secondary school children will stay at home

    Work from home wherever possible

    Wear face masks indoors and on public transport
He added: 'We don't want to get into a line by line going through thousands of of product items. That would be unusable from their point of view and ours,' he said.

Burley asked whether the situation meant alcohol is essential but a hair dryer is not.

'Well look, food and drink are items that we had through the first period of the pandemic, they are available everywhere,' Mr Gething replied.

When the presenter insisted, 'Trust me, my hair dryer is essential', Mr Gething responded: 'No it isn't, Kay.'

Burley said: 'Course it is. Look at the state of your hair compared to mine.. I have to dry my hair, you can towel dry yours.'

But Mr Gething replied: 'I don't think that the biggest issue on people's minds in Wales will be whether they can buy a hair dryer for the next two weeks.'

With police given powers to take action against drivers heading into Wales from England, the Garda are back on the Irish border and carrying out checks on drivers after the highest-level lockdowns were imposed on both sides of the frontier.

Irish police have not carried out such stringent checks on drivers from Ulster since the days of the Troubles when the IRA moved guns and explosives into the war-torn province.

Now they are on the lookout for people making non-essential journeys, after the Republic this week imposed swingeing Level 5 restrictions which ban people from travelling more than three miles (5km) from their home.

Stormont has asked citizens not to make 'unnecessary travel,' but Dublin's measures are more aggressive.

On Wednesday night, when Ireland's new six-week national lockdown began, gardai were given new powers by Dublin to prosecute people making non-essential travel, with fines of up to €2,500 and jail for up to six months.

The firebreak lockdown has sparked anger among opposition figures, with Welsh Conservative Andrew RT Davies tweeting: 'The power is going to their heads'.

The lockdown is significantly more severe than England's three-tier system, with Wales demanding people stay at home except for limited purposes such as exercise, and ordering the complete closure of pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops.

A ban on travel to Wales from hotspot areas in England has been in place this week, despite the Police Federation describing it as 'unenforceable'.

By contrast, even in England's strictest Tier Three areas, some social meetings are allowed outdoors and pubs can stay open providing they offer customers a 'substantial meal'.

As a result, revellers took to the streets of Cardiff city centre last night to enjoy one blast on the town before the new restrictions came into force.

The hard line taken in Wales was mercilessly mocked by social media users who created memes to rib the new regulations
Bacteriologist says restaurant and pub closures across Scotland and Wales are NOT backed by 'sound evidence'

Pub and restaurant closures across Scotland and Wales are not backed by 'sound evidence', according to a top academic.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today unveiled her nation's new tiered lockdown approach while Wales began a 17-day 'firebreak' at 6pm this evening.

The rules mean the shutters are coming down on many sections of the high street in both countries, however Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said he is frustrated by the lack of information being used to support the shutdown.

It comes after hospitality groups signalled their intention to take legal action against the Government.

The Scottish Beer and Pub Association, The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UK Hospitality (Scotland), the Scottish Hospitality Group and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland are all pursuing action.

They said there is 'no sound evidence' to support bar and restaurant closures, which were extended yesterday for another week in the Central Belt.

Prof Pennington said he understands the hospitality groups' decision to pursue legal action.

He said: 'I can see where they are coming from.

'I can see why they want to see more data.

'I think those of us who are not involved in the government machine would like to see that data.

'I've been quite frustrated by the low level of information about outbreaks and the evidence that is being used.

'What the hospitality industry want to see is the evidence that is driving the policy.

'There is evidence from the international scene, we know there have been outbreaks in pubs and of course there was the Aberdeen outbreak.

'But what I haven't seen and what the hospitality industry will be very keen to see is if there has been a detailed study of an outbreak.

'One can do quite sophisticated analysis quite quickly and I haven't seen that data.

'And if there is evidence, then the hospitality industry can accept, well that's why you are coming down so heavily on us.'

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also wants to take a harsher approach than the PM, with more levels of curbs to tackle the pandemic, though she played down claims from a top adviser that families should prepare to see loved ones over Zoom at Christmas due to the ongoing crisis.

Mr Drakeford said it will be 'made clear' to supermarkets that only certain parts of their business will be allowed to open in order to sell essentials.

Retailers were given mere hours to put together plans for the lockdown, which will run until November 9, as shopkeepers argue the rules do not make sense as customers will already be in their stores to buy the 'essential' items.

Mr Drakeford made the announcement at a Senedd committee in response to a question from Conservative MS Russell George who said it was 'unfair' to force independent clothing and hardware retailers to close while similar goods were on sale in major supermarkets.

'In the first set of restrictions people were reasonably understanding of the fact that supermarkets didn't close all the things that they may have needed to,' Mr Drakeford said.

'I don't think that people will be as understanding this time and we will be making it clear to supermarkets that they are only able to open those parts of their business that provide essential goods to people and that will not include some of the things that Russell George mentioned which other people are prevented from selling.

'So, we will make sure there is a more level playing field in those next two weeks.'

From Friday all leisure and non-essential retail will be closed and this includes clothes shops, furniture shops and car dealerships. A complete list is yet to be published.

Shops allowed to remain open include supermarkets and other food retailers, pharmacies, banks and post offices.

Under the law, firms conducting a business that provides a mixed set of services will be allowed to open if they cease conducting the service that must close.

Mr George said: 'It is deeply concerning that, given we are days away from the lockdown, we are still awaiting the publication of a full list of the types of businesses required to close, as well as guidance on business closures.

'At a time of considerable uncertainty, it is totally unacceptable - whether intentionally or not - to create even more concern and anxiety, which is, sadly, what this Government is succeeding at.

'The people and businesses of Wales deserve better than being left in the dark. For the sake of people's jobs and livelihoods, I urge the Welsh Labour-led Government to heed our calls and publish a list, without delay.'

Andrew RT Davies, the Conservative shadow health minister, tweeted: 'The power is going to their heads.'

He later added: 'Is a flagon of Strongbow deemed essential? What about some much-needed underpants if you're caught short?

'I do hope there is some published guidance on what the Labour commissars deem as essential.'

Sue Davies, from consumer group Which?, said the announcement would cause 'confusion', particularly among the vulnerable.

'Our own research showed that almost half of those who described themselves as situationally vulnerable in Wales during the previous lockdown had difficulty accessing the food and groceries they needed,' she said.

'The Welsh Government must act now to clarify the situation around what retailers can and cannot sell, and must urgently identify those most in need to give them the support to ensure that no-one who is at risk struggles to access the food and other basics they need.'

The First Minister said he would keep the principality closed down for as short a time as possible, but insisted it was necessary to act as a breaker to a 'rising tide' of cases – despite Wales having a lower rate of infections than England.

The decision to impose a 'short and deep' lockdown until November 9, which echoes national demands made by Sir Keir Starmer and wipes out Halloween and Bonfire Night, sparked a furious political backlash.

Data showed England had a coronavirus infection rate of 166 per 100,000 people in the week of October 14 while Wales had a rate of 163 per 100,000.

Welsh Tories said it was dooming the country to an endless cycle of two-week lockdowns while Conservative MPs in Westminster said it was a 'blunt instrument' and 'closing down the whole of Wales is disproportionate to the level of risk in some parts of the country'.

Department of Health data shows how weekly infection rates vary across Wales. Areas in dark blue diagnosed at least 200 cases for every 100,000 people living there in the week ending October 18. Light blue shows a rate of between 101 and 200. Areas in dark green saw between 51 and 100 cases for every 100,000 people, while those in light green saw between 11 and 50 positive tests for the same amount of people.

Kay Burley presses Welsh Health Minister on 'trolley police' rules

A graph shows how the number of coronavirus cases has risen in Wales since the end of August but there have been fewer in recent days

A graph shows how the number of coronavirus hospitalisations is on the rise in Wales over the last few days, but has not sky-rocketed

A graph shows how the number of coronavirus deaths has risen in Wales since the end of August but there have been fewer in recent days

During a bruising interview with Kay Burley on Sky News, Vaughan Gething said the Welsh government was producing 'categories' that are allowed to be sold

Sara Jones, head of the Welsh Retail Consortium, said: 'Compelling retailers to stop selling certain items, without them being told clearly what is and what isn't permitted to be sold, is ill-conceived and short-sighted.'

And James Lowman, chief of the Association of Convenience Stores added: 'Retailers must not be forced to stop making products available to customers just because ministers don't think they're essential.'

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: 'The fire-break is designed to reduce all physical contact between households to an absolute minimum in order to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

'We have a small window in which to take this action and there are no easy choices.

'However, we fully recognise the impact the fire-break will have on businesses and are making a further £300 million available to support them through this difficult period.'

At the start of the pandemic, hordes of shoppers descended on supermarkets at the crack of dawn in a desperate bid to stock up after weeks of panic-buying cleared food aisles across the country.

Pleas from the government and retailers to consider other people and steer clear of panic-buying had been largely ignored, with those who did exercise restraint forced to flock to stores well ahead of opening times to make sure they didn't leave empty-handed.

Individual stores took action to curb the number of products people could buy, while police and private security were even drafted in to stamp out ransacking of high-demand items such as toilet roll.

Mr Drakeford said this week: 'It is a very difficult time indeed and it's why, in the end, we decided to go for the shortest possible period of a firebreak - a two-week period.

'But if you're doing it short, you've got to do it deep. There's a trade-off there.

'We could have gone for a longer period with slightly fewer restrictions but, in the end, the advice to us - partly because of the impact on people's mental health – was that if you could keep this period of time as short as you could, that would help to mitigate that impact.' ... rules.html
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