A TWO-week “fire-break” lockdown will be introduced across Wales from 6pm on Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed.

Mr Drakeford told a Welsh Government press conference in Cardiff that the measure was necessary to reduce the spread of coronavirus and prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed.

The “sharp and deep” lockdown will begin on October 23 and last until November 9, with everyone in Wales “required to stay at home”.

“The only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible,” Mr Drakeford said.

The First Minister said 'there are no easy choices' as the virus is 'spreading rapidly in every part of Wales'.

At the Welsh Government conference, Mr Drakeford said critical care units are already full and health care staff 'who have already done so much' are being asked to 'work even harder'.

But, if we do not act now, the NHS will not be able to cope through the winter months, even with the 5,000 additional beds.

The two-week fire-break will see people return to working from home where possible.

Critical workers are still able to work and those when working from home is not possible.

Welsh Government confirmed that people must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with either indoors and outdoors.

No gatherings will be allowed outdoors - such as celebrations for Halloween or Bonfire Night - or other organised activities.

The ‘fire-break’ will see the closure of all non-food retail, hospitality businesses, including cafes, restaurants and pubs (unless they provide take-away or delivery services), close contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, and events and tourism businesses, such as hotels.

Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will be required to close too.

Face coverings must be worn in indoor public spaces (which remain open) including on public transport and in taxis.

During this time, adults living alone or single parents will be able to join with one other household for support purposes.

The ‘fire-break' will cover the half-term week for schools but, after this local primary and special schools will re-open as normal for the second half of the new restrictions.

Secondary schools will re-open after the half-term for children in years seven and eight, those taking exams and their most vulnerable children. Otherwise, pupils will continue their learning from home for an extra week.

Childcare facilities will also remain open.

The First Minister added that universities will provide a blend of in-person and online learning but students must remain at their university accommodation.

Welsh Government clarify that the NHS remains open for business and health services will continue to operate as normal. Local parks, playgrounds and outdoor gyms will also remain open.

Following the end of the fire-break, a new set of national rules will be introduced covering how people can meet and how the public sector and businesses operate.

Mr Drakeford confirmed that the firebreak will end on November 9 as this is a fixed period but the benefits of numbers decreasing will not be seen until the weeks that follow.