People living alone under lockdown in Wales can meet one other household indoors

People living alone in areas of Wales under local lockdown will be able to meet one other household indoors, the First Minister has said.

There are currently tighter restrictions in 16 areas of Wales, including Cardiff, Swansea and parts of North Wales, affecting more than 2.3 million people.

Under the local lockdown rules, people have only been able to meet people from outside their household outdoors – with indoor meetings banned and extended households suspended.

On Friday, Mark Drakeford said those living alone in the areas would be able to form an exclusive “bubble” with one other household in the same county.

This could be a person meeting indoors with a family, or with another adult from a single household.

“We are easing the restrictions so that single adult households will be able to form an alliance with one other household from within that county area,” Mr Drakeford told BBC Breakfast.

“The idea is to ease some of that sense of loneliness, isolation, not being able to talk to anyone else.

“There’s more than one form of harm from coronavirus and a sense of mental wellbeing is an important thing that we can make a difference to through this change.”

Mr Drakeford will give further details at a press conference on Friday.

Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham in North Wales went into local lockdown at 6pm on Thursday.

The four local authorities joined Caerphilly county borough, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport, Blaenau Gwent, Cardiff, Swansea, the town on Llanelli, Neath Port Talbot, the Vale of Glamorgan and Torfaen, all in south Wales.

People must not enter or leave the affected areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travelling for work or education.

Extended households – where four different homes are allowed to form one exclusive household in Wales – are also suspended in the areas.

Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio Wales that a local authority area was placed on a “watch list” when cases of Covid-19 reached more than 20 per 100,000 people.

“When you reach the 50 threshold or are about to reach it, that’s the trigger for us to have to introduce these further restrictions in local areas,” he said.

“I think that process is very straightforward. People can look at the figures.

“We get advice from people on the ground, the local health protection team, the local authority, the local police.

“We meet with them, we get their advice, we make a decision.”

Mr Drakeford said taking an area out of local lockdown was “more complicated than going in” and the Welsh Government would take a gradual approach to lifting restrictions.

“It’s not going to be a position where all the restrictions are in place on one day and they all disappear the next,” he told BBC Radio Wales.

The First Minister has previously called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to enforce travel restrictions on people in areas under local lockdown in England, to prevent them from holidaying in Wales.

He acknowledged that there had not been evidence of people visiting parts of Wales and bringing the virus with them.

“But that was at a time when the virus was very effectively suppressed throughout Wales and across our border,” Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio Wales.

“At a time when coronavirus is on the rise again in Wales, and even more so across the border, it doesn’t make sense to allow people travelling from high hotspot areas to go into those parts of Wales where the virus is still effectively suppressed.”

On Thursday, a further 398 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 24,383.

Public Health Wales said six people with coronavirus had died, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic increasing to 1,622.