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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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Reminder from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to pre-book for attractions

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MEMBERS of the public are being reminded to pre-book their entry tickets before visiting two popular National Park Authority-run attractions.

To allow for social distancing on site, both Carew Castle and Tidal Mill and Castell Henllys Iron Age Village have been operating a pre-booking system since last summer.

Those wishing to visit should book their tickets online before arriving at the site. This applies to Annual Pass holders and others who qualify for free entry, such as wheelchair users and accompanying carers.

Carew Castle is open to pre-booked visitors between 10am and 4pm (Tidal Mill 11.30am – 5pm), while those wishing to visit Castell Henllys will be asked to book either a morning slot (10am-1pm) or an afternoon slot (2pm-5pm) before visiting the site.

Daisy Hughes, Visitor Services Manager at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, said: “Over the past 12 months, we have made some changes to the site and how we operate to ensure that we keep you, our staff and our local community safe.

“All areas of the Castle and Tidal Mill are open, including the Walled Garden and play area. Nest Tearoom, which has plenty of outdoor undercover seating, will be serving light lunches and homemade cakes along with hot and cold drinks throughout the day, and the Castle and Mill Shops remain open – although face coverings must be worn and only card/contactless payments are currently being accepted.

“With the exception of Nest Tearoom, pre-booking is essential, though, and we’re asking all visitors to make sure they book their entry tickets in advance, in order to avoid any delays or disappointment when they arrive on site.”

Entry tickets for both Carew Castle and Castell Henllys can be purchased by visiting www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events

A dynamic programme of events suitable for all the family will be running at both sites throughout the summer months. Visit the above website for more information and to book tickets.

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Salvage Hunters: New series is filming in Pembrokeshire, and they need help

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SALVAGE HUNTERS, the well-loved and most watched Quest TV and Discovery Network show, is on the hunt for locations to film at in the Pembrokeshire and the wider South West Wales area to feature in the upcoming series.

We follow decorative antiques expert Drew Pritchard as he travels around various locations in the UK and abroad on his quest to find and buy unusual objects with an interesting history.

Drew really visits everywhere – beautiful estates, old family businesses, barns and attic’s stuffed full of unwanted things, museums, factories, collectors and iconic religious sites buying all sorts along the way – from gorgeous country house furniture and railwayana to 6ft 1980s disco balls and anything in-between.

Now in its sixteenth series and airing to over half a million people in the UK and millions more worldwide, this is a great opportunity for you to promote your business or home to a broad audience, sell a few items that perhaps you no longer need, make some money and celebrate the history and heritage of the UK.

If you think you fit the bill or know somebody that might then please do not hesitate to reach out and speak with a member of our team.

Call us on 0203 179 0092 or alternatively send us an email to – salvagehunters@curvemedia.com

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Haverfordwest and Cardigan high streets listed as among the ten worst in Britain

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TWO west Wales high streets have been listed in a UK wide report detailing Britain’s worst high streets.

In the highly respected report Cardigan High Street has been listed as the 4th worst in Britain, whilst Haverfordwest has come 8th.

The Harper Dennis Hobbs rankings, which come out every two years, in sadly listed six Welsh High Streets in the worst 10 category.

Some retail centres have performed well since 2019 but most Welsh towns have fallen down the list.

Overall the performance in Wales was poor with a major drop in the average position of Welsh high streets on the UK list.

More shops in Haverfordwest’s town centre have closed since the coronavirus hit (Pic: File image)

The average rank was 797 – the worst of any nation and region in the UK, showing the huge challenge Welsh Government has to revive town centres. Six of the bottom ten UK high streets were in Wales.

Normally Harper Dennis Hobbs releases the full ranking but when the firm published its 2021 report in February, it only made the top 50 best-performing locations publicly available. Now, a copy of the full list shared with i lays bare the shopping centres and high streets that have fared worst over the past year.

Top of the worst list is Girvan in South Ayrshire.

Girvan is home to around 6,500 people and has suffered the same difficulties as many cities and towns across the UK when it comes to its high street’s declining appeal – but it is the area’s “very weak retail offer” and the large number of empty shops that helped seal its place at the bottom of the league table.

Haverfordwest in 2014. can you spot any differences to now?

“Girvan along with Haverfordwest and Cardigan all scored poorly due to a very weak retail offer [and] the towns have a relatively high vacancy rate,” said Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at Harper Dennis Hobbs.

Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at HDH, explained: “Our analysis is unique as we use variables that both consumers and retailers consider when assessing shopping locations to rank the top 1,000 retail centres in Great Britain. This Vitality Ranking looks very different from previous years as the ‘retail health’ of high streets across the country has seen contrasting fortunes since the start of the pandemic.

“The most vital retail centres currently provide services that are essential to people’s lives, such as grocers and pharmacies. These essential retailers have been able to trade throughout the strictest lockdowns, and consumers have not been willing or able to travel far to visit these stores. Shopping patterns have therefore changed significantly since the start of the pandemic, and consumers’ local high streets are benefitting at the expense of major destinations.”

Turning empty retail spaces in the town into homes or offices could help rejuvenate the area and bring “demand to the doors” of shops that survive, Mr Metherell said.

Cardigan High Street before Covid-19 (Pic Stay In Wales)

Top 10 best high streets 2021

  1. Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
  2. Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
  3. Tenterden, Kent
  4. Wimbledon Village, south-west London
  5. Marlborough, Wiltshire
  6. Sevenoaks, Kent
  7. Kingston upon Thames, Greater London
  8. Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
  9. Harpenden, Hertfordshire
  10. Ilkley, Bradford

Top 10 worst high streets 2021

  1. Girvan, South Ayrshire
  2. Bristol – Baldwin Street
  3. Chepstow, Monmouthshire
  4. Cardigan, Ceredigion
  5. Southsea, Portsmouth
  6. Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  7. Ammanford, Carmarthenshire
  8. Haverfordwest, Permbrokeshire
  9. Canning Town, east London
  10. Newtown, Powys

(Source: Harper Dennis Hobbs)

Cardigan High Street pictured in the early 2000’s before Currys left town (Pic Geograph)
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