By Tirion Davies | Editor-in-Chief
Rhondda Cynon Taff will be the second county in Wales to go into local lockdown, following the local lockdown issued in Caerphilly last week.
The 240,000 residents in Rhondda Cynon Taff will have the local lockdown enforced from 18:00 on Thursday, September 17.
A rapid rise of positive cases in the area has been a cause for concern, with positive COVID-19 cases reaching 82.1 infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days. The national average for Wales currently remains at 21.4 infections per 100,000 people.
Many were expecting Merthyr to be the next county to follow Caerphilly into a local lockdown, as the county in Wales with the second-highest infection rate.
Rhondda Cynon Taff, however, has been deemed a higher risk as a bigger area, due to the high risk of positive cases and the ease of transmission.
From Thursday, no resident under Rhondda Cynon Taff jurisdiction will be able to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education.
Licensed premises across the valley will need to shut by 23:00 each day once the local lockdown is in place.
Health Minister for Wales Vaughan Gething spoke to the BBC, and stated that due to track and trace resources,
“Our contact tracing teams have been able to trace about half of these cases back to to a series of clusters within the borough”
It is believed the epicenter of one of the infection clusters is associated with a rugby club and a pub in the lower Rhondda Cynon Taff area, with another as a result of a club outing to the Doncaster races, with travelers having stopped at multiple pubs along the way.
What does this mean for Cardiff?
Rhondda Cynon Taff has been on the watch list for the Health Minister for weeks, with it closely following Merthyr in the counties with the highest number of infections in Wales.
Cardiff currently has a higher infection rate than the national average in Wales, with the number of positive cases set to rise in the coming weeks with the return of students.
According to the Public Health Wales confirmed data on September 15, Cardiff has a positive test proportion of 5.7%, higher than the Welsh average for the same period, and just lower than Rhondda Cynon Taff, which was noted as a 6.3% positive proportion.
Coyote Ugly on St Mary’s Street in Cardiff was recently cautioned for not following Welsh Government social distancing guidelines, and the Cathays bar Locos announced this week it would be closing after it was found it was not complying with new Welsh Government guidelines.
It’s unknown whether Cardiff will be the next county to follow into a local lockdown, as areas such as Merthyr continue to hold a higher rate, but there is no doubt Cardiff will be heavily monitored.
Despite having no reported deaths, Wales is continuing to see a higher rate of positive COVID-19 tests since the easing of lockdown.
A nation which was once the only part of the UK with a falling R-rate has now seen its second county put into local lockdown, with undoubtedly more counties to follow.