From tonight people from six areas of Wales will not be able to enter the capital city without a reasonable excuse
While Cardiff may not technically be in lockdown, for some people it might as well be.
With residents from six neighbouring counties now unable to enter the capital city without a reasonable excuse, businesses are bracing themselves for what they know will be tough times ahead.
Some have already seen footfall drop over the last few weeks, while others have seen a dramatic change in their customer base in the last few hours before lockdown measures in Newport, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent are put in place.
For them it is the last thing they need while facing the looming possibility of a local lockdown themselves if the situation worsens.
“This week has been definitely quieter. Yesterday there was a marked downturn,” said Richard Lewis, manager of Brew Monster Tap House on St Mary Street.
“Through the week we’re getting more tourists or people off work but this week has been a lot quieter so far.
“Obviously I think there’s been so much media attention and things like that and less people are out and about.”
According to Richard the council’s decision to allow outdoor seating in the area proved to be godsend when the weather was good.
But now, as Autumn gets underway, they will just have to see if people will continue to venture out – especially when capacity indoors remains limited due to social distancing rules.
Standing outside the empty pub, he said: “Normally we put as many tables and chairs in as we can in but sticking with the 2m rule it’s Friday and Saturday where we make most of our money.
“We are just ticking over at the moment. We are staying open but definitely not making much money out of it.
“We’ve gone from over 60 [capacity] down to 20, 25, 30. With the change in service we have more staff on just to serve the same amount of people.”
Asked about about the chance of a Cardiff lockdown, Richard added: “It’s inevitable really. With everywhere that has locked down I’d say a high percentage of them work in Cardiff so it’s got to have an effect really.”
A few streets away the team behind Quay Street Kitchen are busy trying to get together a plan for the next few months. They were originally planning to open back up again for the first time since lockdown this week, but with the recent measures put in place they have decided to focus on adapting their business model instead.
While the independent cafe was previously reliant on lunchtime trade from office blocks which remain empty, they are developing a click and collect service to allow people to pick up their food from across the city.
Owner Rachael Brown said: “We have already seen a difference over the last few days. People have felt it’s been coming with the news from Caerphilly and so forth.
“We are set up for collecting from Quay Street Kitchen, or footfall at Quay Street Kitchen so any kind of lockdown will have a massive impact because people won’t actually be coming to our business.
“Our core customers are people who go out to buy their lunch every day and those who work in offices. I think the offices are 85% empty so you can imagine the impact. We were going to be re-opening this week but it’s just the timing sucks.
“We would have food waste so you’d get the double hit of people not coming in and then more money being lost on food waste – and any kind of food waste is heartbreaking.
“But out model going forward is to have a click and collect delivery service that will enable us to go to people if people can’t come to us. We’ll have different venues for people to collect our food. So long as we have software that enables us to have control over our business model we should be able to hopefully weather the storm and adapt.
Over in Cardiff Market, Jacob Trott opened his florists the Flower Chapter during lockdown earlier this year.
He just hopes that Cardiff will be able to avoid lockdown for long enough for him to benefit from the students busy decorating their new homes with his houseplants.
While online orders proved popular during his first few months, business has now changed to include those coming to his stall to shop in person.
Jacob said: “This week I’ve noticed it’s been quieter, especially because they’re locking down [elsewhere] at 6pm. Today there’s no-one in here.
“It was going okay, I wasn’t expecting much but it was going okay, and this week it’s not very good.
He added: “When I opened up when lockdown was lifted I noticed the internet orders kind of slowed down but picked up in store and now I think it’s going to go back that way.
On Tuesday, 281 new lab-confirmed positive cases of coronavirus were announced across Wales – the highest number of cases recorded in a single day since April 20.
However, significantly more tests are being carried out now, with 9,850 test results reported today compared to 898 on April 20.
While Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) had by far the highest number of new cases on Tuesday with 77, followed by Bridgend with 34, Cardiff is now being treated as an “area of concern” by Public Health Wales along with areas including Swansea and the Vale of Glamorgan.
However with a a seven day rolling total of 27.5 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 112.7 in Merthyr and 102.4 in Rhondda Cynon Taf, it still has a long way to go.
As well as those from soon-to-be locked down areas getting their last few bits from the city, there are tourists visiting from the likes of Germany, Manchester, Norfolk and Scotland and families dropping off new university students.
If Cardiff were to go into lockdown, tourism is another economy that would take a hit as people opt to holiday nearby instead of heading abroad.
For those living locally, many believe the idea of a lockdown for the city isn’t too far away.
Charlie Todd, 23, is an estate agent in Cardiff. Speaking on her lunch break, she said the housing market is now responding to people’s worries yet again.
She said: “When it was the first lockdown I had to come off work and I get paid commission so that was hard and not seeing my family was really hard as well.
“It seems like it’s going to go into a lockdown which I’m quite scared about because I’ve only just got back into work. With meals and bars and socialising it felt like it was all going back to normal and now it’s a vicious circle of when is this ever going to stop?
“I suffer from anxiety, I’m quite open with that, and to be honest it did have a really big impact on my mental health because I couldn’t see the people I normally go to. My nan lives in Swansea and I usually see her once a week but I was too scared to go and see her.
“I am an estate agent and the market is untelling at the moment. It was thriving when we came back and now it’s gone down again, I think people are nervous.”
Gail Seaford, 69, lives in Penarth but is visiting Cardiff city centre for the first time since January. For her, groups of young people not wearing masks has proved unnerving, coupled with the news of rising cases.
She said: “I don’t feel comfortable. It’s the first time I’ve been in Cardiff since January.
Despite an increase in infection numbers though, not everyone thinks a Cardiff lockdown will be next on the priority list.
Cal Ellis said: “For me I find it strange that we are closing down everywhere around Cardiff like Caerphilly, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, but Cardiff is going to have a spike again just because of all the students coming in. That’s a lot of people coming in from around the country and you can’t expect students to be social distancing during fresher’s week.
“All my friends who own businesses say it’s been quieter because people aren’t coming in from the Valleys so it’s a massive business loss already. I was in town at the weekend and it was quiet already.
“They are going to try and keep Cardiff open for as long as possible because of the businesses. Cardiff is such a hub of business that to shut it down again would be a loss of a lot of money.”
News – ‘Feels like we’re in lockdown already’ say shop owners in Cardiff