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Update on Lockdown easing measures from First Minister Mark Drakeford

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WELSH MINISTERS are required to review the need for the requirements and restrictions and their proportionality every 21 days.

The scientific and medical advice continues to show the level of coronavirus transmission in Wales remains low. However, the rise in cases we can see in other parts of the UK and further afield continues to remind us that the threat from the virus has not gone away. We are learning the lessons from those places, which indicates people meeting indoors remains a significant risk.

It is a priority for Welsh Government that schools in Wales should be able to open in September as planned. All the easements we make to restrictions have a cumulative effect on transmission rates and the headroom we have available. We will use the headroom we have to ensure children can resume their education next month.

In line with advice from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales and the scientific evidence of the risks from indoor settings, the conditions still do not permit me to ease the general restrictions on the ability of people to meet indoors. This is kept under continuous review and changes will be made when it is safe to do so.

This still means that we must not visit someone else’s home indoors unless we are part of an extended household with them or providing care. It also means we can only visit a business or premises indoors, such as a pub or restaurant, with members of our own household or extended household. It is, of course, possible to meet different people outdoors as long as social distancing is maintained.

Mr Drakeford said “We fully appreciate how difficult these continued restrictions can feel and the negative effects they might have on people’s wellbeing. Therefore during this review period I am keen to provide relaxations to recognise the vital importance everyone places on being able to spend time with family and friends.”

The First Minister said that he can confirm that up to four households will be able to join together in an extended household from Saturday 22 August. This might take the form of two existing extended households joining together, or households not already part of one to join existing or new extended households.

Extended households have enabled families be reunited and helped those suffering from loneliness and isolation. They have also supported caring arrangements. I know families have had to make difficult choices however in deciding with whom they should form their extended household.

This change will benefit those previously not able to form an extended household as well as providing opportunities for people to meet with more friends and family. More people can visit each other indoors, go out and do things together, and stay overnight without social distancing.

Changes will also be brought forward to the Regulations to allow for some limited indoor celebrations following a wedding, civil partnership, or funeral for up to 30 people from 22 August. For now, these will be limited in scope, such as an organised meal in a hotel or restaurant, and must take place in a regulated setting. This will ensure that all reasonable measures are taken to limit the risks of infection and spread of coronavirus. We will learn the lessons from this relaxation to consider how they might be applied to other events in the future.

The risk from coronavirus is much lower outdoors, which has led to us easing restrictions more quickly in those areas. Our approach throughout this process has been to plan, where necessary pilot activity to learn lessons, and then ease restrictions further. Over the next few weeks we will pilot some limited outdoor events for up to 100 people.

With an aim to do this through proposals that are in development for:

• Outdoor theatre events organised by Theatr Clwyd (over weekends beginning Friday 27 August);

• Small scale car rally at Trac Mon on Ynys Mon; and

• Welsh Triathlon’s planned ‘Return to Racing’ competition at Pembrey Country Park.

To be clear, no other outdoor events of this sort will be allowed during the next three weeks. These pilots are being trialled to enable us to learn lessons, in the hope that more such events can be permitted in future.

Looking forward to the remainder of the three weeks of this review, we will use this time to look at how we can safely restart more activity indoors. This is important preparation for the autumn and winter when options to meet outdoors become less possible.

A number of people, including the Older People’s Commissioner, have raised the growing concern about the impact restrictions on visiting care homes is having on people’s emotional, mental and even physical health. I understand the distress this is causing.

The Welsh Government has been working closely with partners, to develop guidance that sets out the stringent considerations that care home providers should take in order safely to resume indoor visits. Everybody is concerned to ensure we prevent the spread of the virus amongst our most vulnerable citizens.

The intention is to provide for indoor visits to recommence from Saturday 29 August subject to the strict controls set out in the guidance and conditions remaining favourable.

Subject to the completion of final preparatory work, casinos in Wales will also be able to reopen on Saturday 29 August.

Mark Drakeford said: “Once again I am grateful to the people of Wales for their support as we collectively Keep Wales Safe.”

We will publicise a summary of all the key dates as soon as we have the information.

Pembrokeshire County Council Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 21st August, as follows:

‘Hello to you all. I hope you are all keeping well.

‘The last week we have seen mixed weather across our county and we are now seeing Storm Ellen battering our county.

‘It can be argued that we have been dealing with Storm Covid-19 since March; this has been a long road and testing for all of us.

‘I do feel the last few weeks has given us all hope and it is nice to see people enjoying themselves across the whole county. However, without sounding to critical or authoritative, we all need to maintain social distancing.

‘As I said last week, we are all making small steps but these steps are moving us forward to a more normal position.

‘I suppose going back to normal is something that will take a long time so we are now carving out for ourselves a new normal and we have to adjust to different ways.

‘I’m very pleased to hear that visitors are spreading themselves across all of the county and relieving pressures on our traditional tourist “hot spots.” We have a beautiful county, so please explore all of it.

‘This week as an Authority we have seen some of our services re-opening such as fitness suites at our leisure centres and access to computers in our libraries.

‘I would like to congratulate all our students, on their recent exam results.

‘Awaiting the results is always a stressful time, so I want to thank all our students for the way they changed and adapted the schooling regime during Covid-19. As an Authority we are preparing and looking forward to the new school term in September.

‘I also want to thank the team in our Contact Centre who have carried on dealing with calls, emails and service requests throughout the pandemic.

‘I appreciate that at times they receive a high volume of calls and customers can be in a queue.

‘Just to remind everyone, we can also handle service requests via the My Account facility on our website:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/my-account
or by asking Penfro, the Council’s chatbot, which appears on all of our website pages.

‘You can also pay your Council bills online at:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/make-a-payment
or by using our automated payment line on 01437 775164 available 24 hours, seven days a week.

‘So once again, we head into another weekend and I hope you all have time to relax and enjoy days out.

‘The following coronavirus-related press releases have been issued since my previous update last Friday:

• County Views With A Safety Message:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom/stunning-county-views-with-a-message

• Keeping Care Providers Safe:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom/pride-at-hard-work-to-keep-county-care-providers-safe

• Hospitality Outlets Reminded About New Grant:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom/bars-cafes-and-restaurants-urged-not-to-miss-out-on-new-grant

• Haverfordwest Airport Partially Re-Opens:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom/airport-partially-re-opens-to-visiting-pilots

• Schools Re-Opening Information:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom/keep-up-to-date-with-school-re-opening-information

• Childcare Grants:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom/council-offers-childcare-grants

• Promoting Social Distancing:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom/banners-promote-social-distancing

‘Public Health Wales is updating and adding to their resources regularly. Please find all assets here: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-resources/

‘Also, please keep an eye on our newsroom at: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom

‘For service updates visit: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/emergency-planning/service-changes
‘And to get daily email updates, log onto our website and sign into My Account at:
https://myaccount.pembrokeshire.gov.uk

‘Remember, please travel safely.’

Useful links:

www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/coronavirus
www.sir-benfro.gov.uk/coronafeirws
https://phw.nhs.wales/
• Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru – Coronafeirws Newydd (COVID-19) – Cyngor hunan-ynysu
https://gov.wales/coronavirus

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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