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SOME pubs can reopen on July 13

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PUBS, cafes and restaurants in Wales can re-open on July 13.
Or, at least, some can.

In a move heavily trailed by the First Minister at his Monday press conference (June 29), pubs, cafes, and restaurants which can serve customers in outdoor spaces they own or pub gardens will be allowed to open for customers on July 13.

The Welsh Government has not announced when indoor trade will be allowed to open.

OUTDOOR OPENING ONLY

The decision follows a torrent of criticism directed at the Welsh Government over its failure to provide a roadmap for reopening the hospitality trade. The industry is linked intimately with Wales’ tourist sector.

That failure was condemned by pub and restaurant owners and opposition spokespersons as evidence of dither, delay, and doing things differently for their own sakes.

Every other UK administration has either already set a clear route out for pubs and restaurants or already reopened them.

Speaking on Monday, the First Minister said: “I hope that [ongoing discussions] are productive and profitable about how pubs and restaurants can safely reopen in the outdoors. And with the mitigating measures that will need to be in place in order to allow that to happen safely.”

The First Minister continued: “We’re getting to the point now where we have a definitive list of the measures that the sector is proposing. And we will need to put that to the Chief Medical Officer, and those who advise us on the science of coronavirus to get their view as to whether or not the proposals amount to a safe reopening that could be recommended.”

The treatment of the consultation with the hospitality industry, suggests the Welsh Government did not join the dots to connect cafes, pubs, and restaurants importance to Wales’ tourism and foodservice industries.

The First Minister said on Monday ‘a rapid review’ would take place over ‘the next couple of days’ with the Government scientific and medical advisors.

However, guidance released without fanfare on the Welsh Government website the same day set out the plan to reopen pubs and restaurants but allow only outdoor service.

COUNCILS LOOK TO FUTURE

Several surveys of those planning ‘staycations’ revealed a majority would only travel to areas where pubs and restaurants were open.

With Wales’ beleaguered coastal and rural economies facing a double whammy of losing over half the tourist season and then being out-competed for tourism pounds by other parts of the UK, something had to give.

With a clear eye on the future of the sector, several local authorities – including Pembrokeshire – have opened consultations on ‘café culture’

Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Licensing, Phil Baker, said: “Given the Covid-19 regulations it is likely many more establishments will be considering the possibilities of utilising outdoor spaces.

“We would urge those running cafes, public houses, restaurants etc to think about how Café Culture could work for their premises and to get in touch so we can understand the demand and get the necessary plans in place.”

Following the Welsh Government’s announcement, it is possible – if not likely – the Council will reconsider the closing date for applications to the scheme.

WG’s APPROACH ‘PROBLEMATIC’ AND ‘FOOT-DRAGGING’

Helen Mary Jones MS, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy Minister, responded to the announcement on Thursday morning: “While the news that we have a date now for outdoor opening is welcome, a timetable could have been shared with the sector earlier. Giving pubs, restaurants, and cafes less than two weeks to prepare for re-opening shows how problematic the Welsh Government’s current ad-hoc approach is to easing restrictions.

“The Welsh Government needs to be planning much further ahead and making clear which restrictions are expected to be lifted in the weeks and months ahead.”

Ms Jones continued: “The Government must work with local authorities to urgently overcome the planning and licensing challenges that need to be addressed, enabling spaces to be created in our towns and villages to increase the space available for outside opening, and to work with the sector on a timetabled plan for indoor opening.

“Some businesses may not be able to open for some months to come. They will need longer term support, and they need to know from the Welsh and UK Governments now what that support will look like: we can’t afford to lose them.”
The Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Covid Recovery – Darren Millar MS – commented: “This announcement will be welcome news for some businesses in the hospitality sector across Wales but without a relaxation of the two-metre social distancing rules and the ability to use indoor spaces, it still won’t be viable for many businesses.

“Unfortunately, the Labour-led Welsh Government’s foot dragging has come too late for some businesses which have already laid off staff and closed permanently due to the prolonged uncertainty and I suspect that without a clear timetable for indoor services others will too.”

He added: “The Labour-led administration should also consider bringing forward the days on which it relaxes its restrictions to Fridays. Too many weekends have already been lost due to Ministers always introducing changes to restrictions on Mondays causing people to lose the benefit of an important weekend of trade.”

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Milford Mercury to cease publication on August 20

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NEWSQUEST, the publishers of the Western Telegraph and Milford Mercury has moved to reassure their readers after deciding to close the Milford Mercury down.

The edition of August 20, 2020 will be the last date that that newspaper will be printed, the company has confirmed.

In a letter to newsagents dated August 6, Group Editor Fiona Phillips said: “Covid-19 has affected many businesses across Wales, particularly news brands that operate in similar local markets. The Milford Mercury is one of those news brands affected by the loss of casual sales  as well as by the turn-down in the advertising market.”

Fiona Phillips said that the Mercury website would continue to operate.

She added: “I want to re-assure Milford of our continued support through the Western Telegraph.”

Cllr Viv Stoddart said: “As the founding editor of the Milford Mercury it is sad news to  hear of the closure of the print  copy of the weekly newspaper.

“The Milford Mercury was  launched at the height of the 1992 recession.
“Despite the downturn in the economy, as  family team, Tessa (marketing) Helen (chief sub) Mike (sport) ably assisted by Claire Beavan, and the
wonderful support of our advertisers, volunteer contributors, and readers, the Merc  proved to be a success with the community.
“The reason for hitting the news stands with a new weekly was that Pembrokeshire’s largest town was worthy of, and deserved its own voice.
“From our  small, but beautiful beginnings, the Merc went from strength to strength.
“Its unique selling point was  bold investigative journalism, excellent local news coverage,  engaging readers in fun items such as Page Five Fellas, Where are they now photos, the Merc Abroad, sport coverage,  and Old Grumpy’s popular column holding the elite establishment to account.
“As circulation increased we were able to recruit more wonderful staff to create a very happy team.
“I remember hard work by everyone to make the independent weekly a success; the stress of meeting deadlines was leavened by office banter, goodwill, and laughter, resulting in very happy Merc memories.”

MORE TO FOLLOW ON THIS DEVELOPING STORY

Latest Milford Mercury logo

 

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Johnston: Police appeal for witnesses

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POLICE have again appealed for witnesses after a collision in Johnston, near Haverfordwest, on Wednesday (August 5).

A boy on a scooter sustained minor injuries during the collision, which took place at around 4.20pm. A red 4×4 is believed to have been involved also.

Anyone who was in the area of the St Peters Road pelican crossing, or nearby Langford road, and either witnessed the collision or who has CCTV that covers this area is asked to get in touch.

You can telephone 101, visit bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, or email contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired you can text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Dyfed-Powys Police Ref DP-20200805-249

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Police investigate ‘Chinese government vehicle’ spotted near Puma Oil Terminal

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POLICE have confirmed that they are conducting “the appropriate enquiries” after a suspicious vehicle was spotted in the vicinity of Puma Oil Terminal on Saturday afternoon (Aug 8).

Following a tip off a Herald reporter was dispatched to the area, and saw a black Volvo SUV with three IC5 (Korean, Japanese or Chinese) looking males inside the vehicle. The vehicle had diplomatic number plates identifying that it belonged to the Chinese government.

However, a DVLA check suggested that the plates were registered to a BMW and not the Volvo they were displayed upon.

South Hook LNG security was notified as a precaution.

A police spokesman said: “Members of the public are advised to contact the police to report any suspicious activity or incidents.”

Both the UK and US governments are currently on alert following incidents of spying relating to key infrastructure, computer systems and state secrets by the Chinese authorities.

[The image used in this report is a computer generated artist’s impression.]

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