Rhondda Cynon Taf lockdown: frequently asked questions
Written by Gavin on 17th September 2020
Following a sharp increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Rhondda Cynon Taf area, new restrictions have been introduced to reduce the spread of the virus and protect public health for people living in the area.
The restrictions come into force at 6pm on 17 September 2020 and will be kept under review.
The main restrictions are:
- people will not be allowed to enter or leave the Rhondda Cynon Taf area without a reasonable excuse
- people will no longer be able to form, or be in, an extended household (sometimes called a “bubble”)
- this means meeting indoors with anyone who is not part of your household (people you live with) is not allowed at the moment, unless you have a good reason, such as providing care to a vulnerable person
- all licensed premises will have to close at 11pm
- people must work from home wherever possible
Why have these restrictions been put in place?
These restrictions are being introduced following a sharp and rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area. This has been caused by groups of people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from summer holidays abroad with coronavirus.
How long will these restrictions stay in place?
The restrictions will be in place until the risk of the spread of coronavirus has reduced, when they can be relaxed. The Welsh Government has a duty to review these restrictions after two weeks and every week after that if the restrictions remain in place longer than that.
What area is covered by these restrictions?
The restrictions cover the Rhondda Cynon Taf area. Residents cannot leave the area without good reason. Similarly those who live outside the area cannot enter it without good reason.
Does this mean I can’t leave the area at all?
You can leave the area if you have a “reasonable excuse” to do so – this includes going to work where you cannot work from home, or using public services that are not available locally. It also includes leaving your local area to visit family or close friends on compassionate grounds if necessary.
But the basic message is that we want people to stay in the area as much as possible. You do not have a reasonable excuse to leave the area to do something if you could be reasonably expected to be able to do it within the area. This also works the other way around. Those living outside the area should not enter it if at all possible.
What can’t I do?
The legal requirement is that you can’t leave the Rhondda Cynon Taf area without a reasonable excuse. However we urge people to think not only about what you can’t do because the law says so, but also about what you shouldn’t do because it could increase the spread of coronavirus and your risk of contracting coronavirus. So even though you can travel within the area, you should think about whether there are alternatives, like working from home or using the internet to shop.
Similarly, even though you can still meet others outdoors in some circumstances, this isn’t an open invitation for people to do so. We are encouraging people to avoid unnecessary travel wherever possible and to avoid crowded places, particularly indoors.
What can I do?
There is a list of reasonable excuses to leave the Rhondda Cynon Taf area, such as going to work where you cannot work from home, accessing public services that are not in the area, and having medical treatment. Other reasons for leaving the area that aren’t listed may, however, also be allowed if they are reasonable. Please see more detailed guidance on the regulations.
I am not a resident of Rhondda Cynon Taf but I am currently in the area – do I now need to leave urgently?
If you do not have a good reason (a “reasonable excuse”) to stay in the area, you should leave as soon as practicable.
If you do have a reasonable excuse to stay, then while you are in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area, you should follow the local restrictions in place and limit your interactions with others as much as possible.
Once you have left the area, please be cautious about interacting with other people and be aware of any potential symptoms of coronavirus.
Can I be fined if I travel outside the area without reasonable excuse?
Yes, police can issue fixed penalty notices or you could be prosecuted and fined by the courts.
Seeing family and friends
Can I visit members of my family or close friends who live outside the Rhondda Cynon Taf area?
Generally speaking, no. However if you need to, you can leave the area to provide care for, or to help someone who needs it, such as an older person, a child or a vulnerable adult. But you should consider whether there are alternative sources of support available and we strongly recommend that you do not visit more than one person outside the area. You can also leave the area to visit someone on compassionate grounds if necessary.
In considering whether there is a need to travel outside the area, please keep in mind that the purpose of the new restrictions is to prevent the transmission of the virus, including to those we care about – both within the area and outside it. People will need to make judgements for themselves about what is reasonable, in line with that overarching principle.
Can I continue with my extended household (or “bubble”) with other households?
No – not even if that household is also within the Rhondda Cynon Taf area. Gatherings with members of any other household can take place outdoors only.
I share parental responsibility for my child, can they visit the other person with parental responsibility, wherever they live?
Yes. You can continue existing arrangements for access and contact if you share parental responsibility for your child with another person, including leaving the local area if needed. Please ensure you follow the guidance on frequent handwashing and do not place others at risk if you or a member of your household is self-isolating.
If however you have coronavirus symptoms, live in the same house as or are an identified contact of someone with symptoms, you should stay at home and children shouldn’t visit.
I am a grandparent and provide informal childcare for my grandchildren. Can I carry on doing this?
Yes, but this form of childcare should only be used when no other methods are available. Adults should not go inside any households other than their own. Where children are being cared for in households other than their own it will be important to ensure they are regularly washing their hands and that wider guidance on managing the virus is followed. Children should not be cared for outside their home if they are ill, or by anyone who is ill.
What do you mean by visits on “compassionate grounds”?
You may have compassionate reasons for visiting someone where they are struggling as a result of the lockdown. For example they may have a physical or mental illness, have suffered a bereavement or you may be concerned about their wellbeing or welfare.
Other examples of things that may be permitted include visits to people living or staying in care homes, (either care homes for adults or children’s homes), and visits to supported living services. However please be aware that routine visits to care homes in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area (both indoor and outdoor) have been suspended at the present time. Visits to care homes may still take place in exceptional circumstances such as end of life, however this should be discussed with the individual care home before travelling.
Please keep in mind that the purpose of the continuing restrictions is to prevent the transmission of the virus, including to those we care about.
Can I still see people outdoors?
Yes, up to a maximum of 30 people can meet outdoors but for the time being they will need to be people who also live in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area. You should continue to socially distance from people outside your household.
Can I meet people in my garden?
Yes. Visitors can also go through the house to reach the garden if needed. Only people who live within the Rhondda Cynon Taf area should visit your garden for the time being. Also, please think carefully about whether visits should take place. If anyone has symptoms of coronavirus, visits should not take place.
Are schools/colleges open?
Yes. Keeping schools/colleges open if possible remains our top priority.
My child goes to school/college outside Rhondda Cynon Taf – can I still take them there?
Yes, as long as they are not displaying symptoms or have not been asked to self-isolate for any other reason.
I live outside but my child goes to school/college there – can I still take them there?
Yes. You can still take them to school/college
Have the rules changed on face coverings in schools?
Each school and college will risk assess the need to wear face coverings. All secondary aged pupils will be expected to wear face coverings on school and public transport. Where a decision is made to introduce the use of face coverings in the event of new local restrictions being imposed, schools and colleges will need to communicate quickly and clearly to sTaf, parents and learners that the new arrangements require the use of face coverings in certain circumstances.
Is school transport running?
There are no rules preventing school transport from running as normal.
I am a teacher who lives in the area but I work in a school/college outside the area – can I still go to work?
Yes, as long as you do not have coronavirus symptoms and have not been advised to self-isolate for any reason. The same applies to a teacher who works in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area but does not live there.
Can I travel to university?
If it is possible for you to access your education online, you should do so. But if not, you can travel to university to access your education. You should not otherwise act any differently to how you would if you were in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area.
Equally, if you have already travelled to university from the Rhondda Cynon Taf area, you may attend educational settings to access elements of your course that cannot be accessed remotely, but you should otherwise act as if you were in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area
My child attends a childcare setting while I am in work – can they still go to that setting as normal?
Yes. Childcare settings remain open.
We live in Rhondda Cynon Taf but use a childcare setting outside the area – can we still use it?
Yes, your children can continue to access their usual childcare provider. Similarly if you live outside the Rhondda Cynon Taf area but use a childcare setting within it you can continue to use it.
I live in Rhondda Cynon Taf but work in a childcare setting outside the area – can I still go to work?
Yes, as long as you are not displaying symptoms of coronavirus and have not been asked to self-isolate for any reason. The same applies if you live outside the Rhondda Cynon Taf area and work in a childcare setting within it.
I am a childminder and care for children in my own home. Can I still do that and are there any restrictions to the services I can provide?
Yes, you can continue to run your childcare setting. You should ensure you are following our guidance on Protective Measures in Childcare Settings. Increased hygiene measures including cleaning and regular handwashing are particularly important. No child or sTaf member should attend a setting if they are ill and you should take all steps to ensure children remain within their contact groups while in your setting.
I run a full day care setting/sessional day care setting. Can I still do that and are there any restrictions to the services I can provide?
Yes – see answer above.
I run an out of school childcare setting (breakfast / after school club). Can I still do that and are there any restrictions to the services I can provide?
Yes – see answer above.
I rely on my wider family and friends to provide childcare while I am in work. They are members of my extended household. Can they still do this for me if extended households are not allowed to meet indoors?
Yes, but this form of childcare should only be used when no other methods are available. Adults should not go inside any households other than their own. Where children are being cared for in households other than their own it will be important to ensure they are regularly washing their hands and that wider guidance on managing the virus is followed. Children should not be cared for outside of their home if they are ill, or by anyone who is ill.
What are the rules on working from home for residents of the Rhondda Cynon Taf area?
If you live in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area and can work from home, you must do so. But if you cannot reasonably do your work from home, you can continue to travel to a place of work (whether that is within our outside the area).
If you have coronavirus symptoms, live in the same house as someone with symptoms, or are an identified contact of someone with symptoms, you must stay at home and self-isolate.
I live outside the Rhondda Cynon Taf area but my work is there and I cannot work from home – can I go to work there?
Yes, if you are unable to work from home and as long as you do not have coronavirus symptoms and have not been advised to self-isolate for any reason.
My employer wants me to go to work. Do I have to?
People can only travel to work if it is not reasonably practicable for them to work from home. This is a legal obligation.
Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements. Employers should take every possible step to help their employees to work from home, including providing suitable IT equipment. Employers also have a separate legal duty to take reasonable steps to ensure their employees are not exposed to risks to their health. Please see the Keep Wales Safe – at work guidance.
If you can reasonably work from home your employer cannot make you go to work.
Can I carry out building or repair work in someone’s home?
Yes. Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople, can continue. Our advice, however, is that both the tradesperson and household members should be well and have no symptoms of coronavirus. Please see the self-isolation guidance for more information. Like other businesses, tradespeople must take all reasonable measures to ensure that 2m distancing is maintained at all times when working in other people’s households and should follow the advice in our social distancing guidance. Please see the guidance on reasonable measures for more information.
We recommend no work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where a person who is classed as extremely vulnerable unless it is to repair a fault which poses a direct risk to people’s safety – for example, emergency plumbing. In these cases, Public Health Wales can provide advice to tradespeople and households. But no work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
I am a teacher who lives in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area but I work in a school outside the area – can I still go to work?
Yes, as long as you do not have coronavirus symptoms and have not been advised to self-isolate for any reason. The same applies to a teacher who works in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area but does not live there.
Can I do voluntary work?
Yes. There is no restriction on going out to provide care or help to a vulnerable person, including emergency help. This includes getting food and medicines for them. But it is important you do not put yourself or the person you are caring for at risk. Please see the volunteering guidance for more information.
But if you live in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area and could reasonably do voluntary or charitable work from home you must do so.
Health and social care
I have caring responsibilities within the County Borough – can I continue to fulfil them?
Yes – whether or not you yourself live within the County Borough. People who are providing care or essential support, such as delivering shopping, can continue to make visits, but they should pay attention to all hygiene and social distancing precautions.
Can my carer continue to come to my home?
Yes. Regulated care providers can still enter a home to provide health and social care to those who need it.
These visits should be subject to a risk assessment as well as ensuring that social distancing. It may be appropriate for face coverings to be worn.
I have a medical appointment outside the Rhondda Cynon Taf area – can I travel to it?
Yes. If the appointment is non-urgent, we would ask you to postpone it, but where you require medical assistance you can travel to wherever is necessary to receive that assistance. Please try if possible not to stop at other locations along the way.
The same applies to any people living outside the Rhondda Cynon Taf area who have a medical appointment inside the area.
Can I visit someone in hospital?
Indoor visits to hospitals should be limited to protect the most vulnerable. Please follow the hospital visiting guidelines, which are in place.
Visits to hospitals in affected areas, and by residents living in affected areas to other hospitals, is restricted to essential visits only. Visits are limited to:
- a birth partner during childbirth
- for a person receiving end-of-life care
- supporting someone with a mental health issue such as dementia, a learning disability or autism where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed
- accompanying a child in hospital
Can I visit someone in a care home?
Routine visits to care homes in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area (both indoor and outdoor) have been suspended at the present time. Visits to care homes may still take place in exceptional circumstances such as end of life, however this should be discussed with the individual care home before travelling.
Travelling and public transport
Can I drive to stay at my second home outside the Rhondda Cynon Taf area?
No, this is not considered to be a reasonable excuse to leave the area. Travelling to a second home increases the risk of spreading the virus and also puts pressure on the NHS in areas which do not have the capacity to deal with an influx of people. This also applies in the case of people who normally live outside the area but have a second home within it.
Can I use public transport?
Yes, if you need to, but you must wear a face covering. Please follow the guidance on using public transport.
Can I travel through Rhondda Cynon Taf to reach a destination not in the Borough?
If you have to travel along a road that passes through the area and you have no other reasonable option to travel to your destination, then this is allowed.
I’ve booked a holiday abroad in the coming weeks – can I still go?
No. We know this will be disappointing but travelling out of Rhondda Cynon Taf area for a holiday is not one of the permitted reasons under the regulations. The regulations are in place to protect you and your loved ones from coronavirus and to prevent the onward spread of the virus to other areas of Wales, the UK and other countries.
If you have pre-booked – and paid for a holiday – we would advise you to contact the travel agent or travel company to discuss the current situation in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area and the restrictions which have been put in place by the Welsh Government to restrict non-essential travel. You should also contact your travel insurer to discuss the situation – while many insurers have designed policies with coronavirus exclusion clauses, some annual policies may cover this situation.
I am currently on holiday (or away from Rhondda Cynon Taf area for another reason) – do I have to come back immediately?
If you have already been away from the local area for some time, and are able to stay away, we consider it is reasonable for you to do so. We are also not advising people to curtail holidays where doing so will cause difficulties. However, people who left the Rhondda Cynon Taf area shortly before restrictions were put in place should be aware they pose a higher risk of transmitting the virus, and so ideally they should return home as soon as possible.
Once residents return to the area, they should then remain in the area until restrictions are lifted.
The rules on face coverings in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area are the same as in the rest of Wales.
For more information please see our guidance page on face coverings.
Pubs and sale of alcohol
What are the new rules on pubs?
Pubs, bars and other premises licensed to sell alcoholic drinks for consumption on their premises (such as rugby clubs or social clubs) must now close at 11pm and may not sell alcohol again until 6am at the earliest.
Are there other venues which are required to close, other than pubs and other drinking establishments?
The rule will also apply to restaurants and any other venues that are licensed to sell alcoholic drinks for consumption on their premises.
Do supermarkets and off licences have to stop selling alcoholic drinks after 11pm?
The rules for supermarkets, off licences and any other shops licensed to sell alcoholic drinks for consumption off the premises have not been changed.
Can I still get a drink in a restaurant after 11:00pm?
No – any restaurant which is licensed to sell alcoholic drinks will be required to close at 11pm in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Are people permitted to drink alcohol together in outdoor public areas after 11pm?
Restrictions on the consumption of alcohol in outdoor public places are a matter for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.
The local restrictions in effect in Rhondda Cynon Taf also mean that people cannot meet indoors with other people who they do not live with for the time being.
Shopping and other services
What shops will be open?
All shops can be open. However, you should stay within the Rhondda Cynon Taf area when you go to the shops, and you will need to wear a face covering. Please see our guidance on the use of face coverings.
Can I travel outside the local area to buy things I cannot get locally?
You are able to get essential goods from outside your local area if you can’t reasonably be expected to do this within the area or get them delivered. But in other cases you must stay within the area. Travelling to Cardiff to go to a clothes shop, for example, is not allowed.
I live in Rhondda Cynon Taf but the closest shops to me are outside the County Borough – can I still use them?
You are able to buy essential items from outside the county borough if you can’t reasonably be expected to do this inside the area or get them delivered. But if you can reasonably be expected to obtain those items within the area, you must do so, even if this involves travelling further than you normally would to stay inside the county borough area.
I live just outside Rhondda Cynon Taf but the nearest shops and other facilities to me are inside the county borough – can I still use them?
If you are buying essential items and there is no reasonable alternative to using shops within Rhondda Cynon Taf, you can do so. However, in most cases we would expect there to be alternative options, even if this involves travelling a bit further than you would normally.
Can I use click and collect services outside the Rhondda Cynon Taf area?
In most cases the answer to this will be no while the requirement to stay within the area remains in place. You need a reasonable excuse to travel outside the area to collect something you need. That is unlikely to be the case if it can be conveniently delivered to you.
Are restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs still allowed to be open?
Yes, but you can only eat and drink indoors with people you live with. It is a criminal offence to deliberately meet someone from outside your household in any of these settings (indoors). There are strict rules about how hospitality settings such as this area allowed to operate. However, if these rules aren’t followed or if people continue to meet others form outside their households they may have to close.
Are hairdressers, beauty salons and other close contact services still allowed to be open?
Yes, although you should only attend these within the area. You will need to wear a face covering.
Places of worship, marriages and civil partnerships, cemeteries and funerals
Can I continue to attend a place of worship?
Yes, as long as it is within the Rhondda Cynon Taf area and you do not go there with anyone who you do not live with. No specific rules are in place about religious services in the area. People will be expected to observe physical distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene, and in addition you will need to wear a face covering.
Can weddings take place?
Yes. Marriages and civil partnership ceremonies and small receptions can take place in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area, but guests from outside the area are not permitted to attend the reception.
Those living in the area can also leave the area if invited to attend a wedding ceremony outside the area but not to attend the wedding reception.
Can I go to a funeral outside the local area?
Yes, if you are invited. However, you should take particular care to maintain social distancing, and you advised to wear a face covering, especially if you will be indoors or if you are unable to socially distance. You should not attend any wake that also takes place.
Sport and outdoor activity
Can sport, leisure and recreation facilities remain open?
Yes. The operators of these facilities must take all necessary measures to manage risk and maintain social distancing, and a gathering of people to exercise or play sport, both indoors and outdoors, must not exceed 30 people.
Who can I play sport or exercise with?
You can only play sport or exercise with others from within the local authority area as long as you maintain social distancing, all reasonable steps are taken to minimise risk, and only do so in groups or classes of up to 30 people.
Can outdoor sports classes and team sports continue?
Yes, but social distancing should be maintained at all times and the classes must be limited to no more than 30 people. You should not travel to areas outside the county to participate in sport or exercise.
Can I drive somewhere to exercise or play sport?
Yes, as long as you staying within the Rhondda Cynon Taf area.
I have mobility problems and need to drive to exercise – can I do that?
Yes. People with specific health or mobility issues may need to travel by car from their home to exercise, including possibly outside the Rhondda Cynon Taf area if there is a good reason for this. For example, some wheelchair users or users of mobility scooters may not be able to exercise immediately outside their homes for practical reasons. In such circumstances the journey should be to the nearest convenient accessible location.
Can gyms and leisure centres stay open?
Yes, as long as they can maintain all the safety requirements to protect people from the risk of contracting coronavirus. Gyms and leisure centres have to put measures in place to ensure social distancing and good hygiene. They may also need to stop certain activities where people are in close contact because the risk of spreading the virus in the area is higher.
Do I need to wear a face covering when I exercise in a leisure centre or gym?
As gyms and leisure centres are indoor public places, you will need to wear a face covering when you go there and you will need to keep it on depending on what you are doing. If you are preparing to exercise, changing or undertaking any activity that isn’t strenuous, especially when in close contact with other people, you will need to wear a face covering.
However, there may be circumstances where the layout of the premises and the nature of the exercise you are doing mean that it would not be reasonable to expect you to wear a face covering. The World Health Organisation advises against wearing a face covering when exercising as sweat can make a face covering become wet more quickly, making it difficult to breathe and promoting the growth of microorganisms. It advises the important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain physical distance from others.
Can I travel to and from the area to take part in sport?
No, only if you are a professional sportsperson or an elite athlete as designated by Sport Wales. Travelling to and from the area for amateur sport activities is not permissible.
What about cycling?
Cycling is allowed but you must cycle within the boundary of the local authority. Cycling in groups larger than 30 people is not allowed, regardless of whether social distancing practices are followed. Cycling to work, or for work, is allowed, if you can’t work from home.
Is shielding being restarted in Rhondda Cynon Taf area for extremely vulnerable people?
No, we are not re-instituting shielding at this stage. We will write directly to people who were previously asked to shield in this area if this changes and we need to ask them to shield again.
Can I use a vet outside the Rhondda Cynon Taf area?
Yes, if there is not a suitable service within the area or if you are already registered with a vet outside the area. You are, however, encouraged to delay any treatment that isn’t urgent.
Am I allowed to travel to pick up pets?
Collecting a pet is generally not considered to be a reasonable excuse to leave the area, but if there are animal welfare grounds for doing so this would be justifiable.
I have to attend court – am I still supposed to go?
Yes. If your court proceedings are still going ahead, you can leave the area to attend court, providing you are not self-isolating – in which case you should contact the court for further information. The courts should help you stay 2m away from other people. The rules preventing gatherings indoors also do not apply to legal proceedings.
My bail conditions require me to report to a police station or meet other requirements, can I leave the area for this?
Yes, providing you are not self-isolating – in which case you should contact the court that imposed the conditions for further information.
Can I travel to an airport to pick up a member of my household or family who is returning to Wales?
Yes. If someone is returning to Wales from outside the UK, they will need to follow the guidance on how to self-isolate after returning from abroad. This guidance applies both to people arriving directly in Wales and for those arriving elsewhere in the UK and then travelling on to Wales.
It is best to avoid sharing a car with another person you do not live with. If you do share a car, please stay as far apart as possible within the car and keep windows open. You can follow this guidance on travelling safely.
Can driving lessons still take place?
Yes, as long as the student and instructor are both based in the county. Both people should wear face coverings.
Enforcement and fines
Who enforces the restrictions?
The restrictions are being enforced by local authority environmental health officers and the police.
What can enforcement officers do?
They can issue fixed penalty notices or recommend prosecution in a magistrates’ court. In addition, they have wide-ranging powers to take practical steps to disperse gatherings, require people to go home and enter property.
What if reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus aren’t taken on premises or in the workplace?
Local authority enforcement officers are now able to issue a premises improvement notice. This requires the person responsible for the premises to take specified measures, and if those measures are not taken an officer may issue a “premises closure notice” requiring the premises to close. Where necessary, an officer may also issue a premises closure notice without having previously issued a premises improvement notice.
So if people don’t comply premises can be closed down.
What will the police do?
The police in Wales will engage with people, explain what they need to do and encourage them to comply. But our police forces have been given powers and they will use them – the restrictions will be enforced if people don’t respond.
What are the financial penalties?
The coronavirus regulations include provisions for a fixed penalty notice to be issued for most types of breaches of the regulations, carrying a fine of £60; this is increased to £120 for a second offence and continues to double for repeated offences, up to a maximum of £1,920. If prosecuted, however, a court can impose any fine (it is not limited).
We hope people understand the severity of the situation we are facing and will comply with the regulations, without having to be issued penalties.