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Stay at home this Easter, urges First Minister

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WALES’ First Minister and emergency services are calling on the people of Wales to stay home and respect social distancing this Easter holiday. The call comes as warm weather is predicted, sparking fears people will venture out of their homes.

The letter from First Minister Mark Drakeford is signed by Wales’ emergency and health services and council leaders, as well as the Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Health minister Vaughan Gething and chief medical officer Frank Atherton join the NHS, the police, fire and ambulance services, charities, councils and voluntary organisations as signatories to the letter.

It reads: “As the Easter bank holiday approaches, we have one message for everyone. Stay home and save lives.

“Our public services are working around the clock to care for and keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Frontline workers are putting our health and care first, every day.

“We must continue to do everything we can to support them; to protect our NHS and to save lives.

“Stay at home and help stop the virus spreading.

“We know it’s hard and we want to thank you for sticking to the rules. There are some early signs this is having a positive impact but there’s still a long way to go. We know that staying at home for long periods is difficult and families all over Wales are making many sacrifices every day.

“Most people are doing just this, but it’s really frustrating to see some people flouting the rules and putting other people at risk. We are taking action to stop this happening.
“These rules are there to protect you and your loved ones. For most people the virus will cause a mild illness, but there’s a large number of people – children, adults and grandparents – who are at risk of serious illness if they are exposed.

“Sadly, a lot of people have already died after catching coronavirus. Families across Wales have lost loved ones to this virus – if we don’t act now, even more deaths will follow.
“Our actions and decisions over the Easter bank holiday weekend, and in the coming weeks and months, will shape Wales for years to come.
“Please – stay home and save lives.”

The letter is signed by:

Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister of Wales
Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services
Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales
Andrew Goodall, NHS Wales Chief Executive
Tracey Cooper Public Health Wales Chief Executive
Carl Foulkes Chief Constable, North Wales Police
Mark Collins Chief Constable, Dyfed-Powys Police
Matt Jukes Chief Constable, South Wales Police
Pam Kelly Chief Constable, Gwent Police
Andrew Morgan WLGA Leader, on behalf of all Welsh Local Authorities
Arfon Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales
Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys
Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales
Jeff Cuthbert, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent
Jason Killens, Chief Executive, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust
Ruth Marks, Wales Council for Voluntary Action Chief Executive
Simon Smith, Chief Fire Officer North Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Chris Davies, Chief Fire Officer Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Hugh Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer South Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Emyr Williams, Chief Executive, Snowdonia National Park Authority

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Masks now advised in all secondary schools

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PUPILS across Wales are now being advised to wear facemasks in all communal areas of secondary schools (including playgrounds), colleges and on transport to and from places of learning by the Welsh Government.

Although not compulsory, the new recommendations have been made by ministers to ensure a consistent approach in tackling COVID-19 across Wales.

People picking up and dropping off children are also advised to wear face coverings too to minimise the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19.

The new guidance, aimed mainly at secondary schools, which the Education Minister has described as ‘easy to follow’ was announced today and now means that the only spaces where staff and pupils can safely remove their facemasks is in the classroom.

The majority of councils already require secondary pupils and staff to wear masks in corridors and on most school transport with those rules extended to primary pupils too in some areas.

Education minister Kirsty Williams said: “It is vital that young people, parents, adults and the workforce feel confident that all measures are being taken to ensure the educational environments are as safe as possible.

“We have been clear that we will keep every policy under review and will continue to follow scientific advice. The policy we are announcing today does just that”.

The new advice has been recommended by the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group (Tag), which has been looking at the “possibility of wearing face coverings for older age groups in more circumstances, including on public and dedicated transport” and could “even include in the classroom on a risk assessed basis…. balancing benefits with harms to overall wellbeing of students.”

Tag is also looking at how feasible a mass asymptomatic testing programme in schools and colleges could be, the Welsh Government has said it is considering that approach.

Debbie Thomas, Head of Policy at the National Deaf Children’s Society Cymru, said: “Face masks and coverings in communal areas could have serious consequences for Wales’ 2,500 deaf children, almost all of whom rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate.
“Socialising in corridors, break time chats and playground games are all rites of passage, but deaf young people now risk missing out because they can’t understand what others are saying. They’re also more likely to experience loneliness, isolation and bullying.
“Public health is the priority, but schools and colleges must move quickly to introduce reasonable adjustments to help deaf young people during this difficult time.”

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Two day centres to close temporarily as a precaution

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TWO north Pembrokeshire Day facilities for older people and people with learning disabilities are to close temporarily as a precaution following the rise in coronavirus cases in Ceredigion.

Bro Preseli Day Centre in Crymych and Wintern Day Centre, Goodwick, are to close temporarily from tomorrow (Tuesday, November 24).

The decision to close each site will be reviewed regularly.

It is emphasised that there have been no positive cases of Covid-19 detected at either site and the temporary closures have been put in place as a precaution.

 

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North Pembrokeshire schools remain closed

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THE SIX North Pembrokeshire schools which were closed today (Monday, November 23) as a precaution following the increased spread of coronavirus in South Ceredigion, will remain closed tomorrow (Tuesday, November 23).

The Pembrokeshire schools are:

• Ysgol Preseli
• Ysgol y Frenni
• Ysgol Llandudoch
• Ysgol Eglwyswrw
• Ysgol Cilgerran
• Ysgol Clydau.

The Pembrokeshire schools are closed as a precaution as they share services – such as transport – with the Ceredigion schools.

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