New restrictions, including an 11pm closure of all licensed premises, will come into force in four local authority areas of South Wales at 6pm tomorrow (22 September) to control the spread of Covid-19.
The new restrictions, which apply to Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport, state that people will not be permitted to enter or leave these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education.
The requirement for all licensed premises to close at 11pm will also be extended to the Caerphilly borough. In addition people will only be able to mix with other households outdoors and everyone over the age of 11 will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public areas.
Health minister Vaughan Gething said the new measures were in response to a "worrying and rapid" rise in cases in the affected areas, which was linked to people socialising indoors without social distancing, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from summer holidays overseas.
He said: "We need to take action to control and, ultimately, reduce its spread and protect people's health.
"It's always a difficult decision to introduce restrictions but coronavirus has not gone away – it is still circulating in communities across Wales and, as we are seeing in parts of South Wales, small clusters can quickly cause real issues in local communities."
The new restrictions will be enforced by local authorities and by the police and will be kept under regular review.
Meanwhile, the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC), which represents over 300 registered supporting cafés, pubs and restaurants across Wales, has sent an urgent letter to Welsh government ministers and officials setting out the "increasingly fragile" financial position of the sector.
The letter warns that the future of thousands of businesses and jobs are at risk unless changes are made to the rules on eating out and additional financial support is given to help the hospitality industry meet rent and other costs.
The WIRC is also calling on the Welsh government to reconsider their version of the 'rule of six', which allows groups made up exclusively of extended households. It argues that the Scottish rule – which allows a changeable combination of two households to meet inside homes or in hospitality venues – has similar regard for safety concerns but will have a much less severe impact on their hospitality sector.
Simon Wright, owner of Wright's Food Emporium in Llanarthne and one of the founding members of the WIRC, said: "The WIRC recognises the swiftly changing trajectory of the virus, but emphasises that the speed of new controls needs to be matched by the rapid introduction of new financial support if the loss of further jobs, livelihoods and businesses are to be avoided".
On Tuesday the Welsh government will call an urgent meeting of all local authority, health board and police forces to discuss the wider situation in South Wales and to determine whether further measures are needed across the region.
The new measures come as Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today that additional restrictions will "almost certainly" be put in place over the next couple of days.