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Welsh ‘Fire-break lockdown’ to end on November 9, Mark Drakeford confirms

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  • Pubs and restaurants reopen
  • English lockdown announcement raises new questions
  • For the two week period that follows November 9, the national rules will be implemented across Wales

MARK DRAKEFORD today confirmed Wales will exit the ‘fire break’ lockdown on November 9.

The First Minister relayed the Welsh Government’s decision during a press conference at lunchtime on Monday, November 2.

Mr Drakeford said the unexpected announcement of an English lockdown on Saturday meant the Welsh Government had to take account of what Boris Johnson’s decision means for Wales.
Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, said: “Firms under severe strain will be relieved. For those in the hard-hit hospitality sector, the next step is to get clear guidance on how businesses can re-open again as swiftly and easily as possible.

“The First Minister has placed great emphasis on personal compliance and changing individual behaviours as we continue to live with the pandemic. Having already invested significant sums in making workplaces safe for staff and customers, business stands ready to play its part in making that a success.”

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS LIFTED

When he announced the end of travel restrictions within Wales, the First Minister said that no travel could take place from Wales to England unless it was essential or had a reasonable excuse.
He also emphasised that the Welsh Government relied on people in Wales limiting their travel to essential journeys only.

Steps would be taken, Mr Drakeford said, to stop people from England coming to Wales to avoid the English lockdown.

Existing travel restrictions to curtail travel from England to Wales enforced by Welsh Government laws would be mirrored over the English border during the month-long lockdown there, Mark Drakeford explained.

Welsh travel restrictions end on November 9. English restrictions on travel come in on Thursday, November 5.

The overlap between the two periods should – both governments hope – prevent any efforts to ‘break’ the lockdown by trying to get around the rules.

DON’T LOOK TO BEND THE RULES

The First Minister emphasised ending the lockdown and making sure a further lockdown was unnecessary largely boiled down to people abiding by the spirit of the restrictions which would follow its lifting.

He warned against people trying to find ways of getting around the restrictions and said people should do the minimum to keep themselves and others safe from potential harm.
Mark Drakeford emphasised that a great deal of responsibility rested upon individuals’ preparedness to avoid selfish and self-serving actions.

He said: “Rather than us asking what we can or can’t do, we need to ask ourselves what should we be doing to keep our families safe.

“Government rules and regulations are here to help. But the real strength we have is in the choices we make and the actions we take together.

BACK TO WORK

Mr Drakeford said all businesses forced to close throughout the firebreak lockdown could reopen on November 9.

He encouraged as many workers as possible to continue to work from home.

Because of the English lockdown announcement, the Welsh Government will continue to consider what arrangements will be made for hospitality and tourism businesses, although he said they would also be allowed to reopen.

A formal announcement in respect of hospitality businesses will be made as soon as the Welsh Cabinet have a chance to unpick the impact of the English announcement on hospitality businesses near the border.

Mark Drakeford said the decision was complicated because of the length of Wales’ ‘porous border’ with England.

He wanted to avoid using Police resources to control breaches of English travel restrictions to use pubs, hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities on the Welsh side of the border.
All Schools and places of worship in Wales will reopen next Monday.

CARE HOMES

Mr Drakeford accepted that visits to relatives in care homes were important to the well-being of homes’ residents.

He expressed hope that a new rapid-response test, would allow visits to take place.

The First Minister said one new test being trialled in Wales could provide test results within half an hour.

He suggested that test’s administration, at a drive-through centre (for example), before a planned visit would allow visits to relatives in care homes to go ahead, depending on each home’s policy on visits.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Mr Drakeford recognised the strain lockdown put on families in Wales and announced a relaxation of restrictions on meeting with other members of your own family.

People should only meet with their ‘bubble’ in their own home and only two households will be able to form a ‘bubble’.

If one person from either household develops symptoms, everyone should immediately self-isolate

Up to 15 people can take part in an organised indoors activity and up to 30 in an organised activity outdoors, providing all social distancing, hand hygiene and other COVID safety measures are followed.

With schools returning from next Monday, young people will be able to meet with their friends in school but not within each others’ homes unless they are part of the same two-household ‘bubble’.

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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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Health

Pembrokeshire residents urged to take a virtual GP consultation when offered

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PEMBROKESHIRE residents are being urged to take up the offer of a virtual consultation, over the phone or video call with their GP, to help Keep Wales Safe during the current lockdown ‘stay at home’ restrictions.

The way we access local NHS services is changing, with more ways in which you can consult your doctor or nurse. Most surgeries now offer telephone as well as electronic advice consultations in the first instance. Following your advice call, a face to face appointment may be organised, but video consultations are also available. You can now speak to a doctor or healthcare professional using the video camera in your smartphone, tablet or computer and a connection to the internet. This is often more convenient and can save you time, as you will not need to travel for a face-to-face appointment. The system used is confidential and secure.

In a recent YouGov survey carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign only 27% of residents in Mid and West Wales had made use of the GP virtual service over the past 12 months with just 57% having heard of the service. However, 88% believed it was important to have access to a remote GP consultation once they had learnt of its existence.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “If you are offered a video consultation appointment this is because your Health Care Professional has indicated that is it safe and appropriate to do so. Your video appointment will be confidential and will not be recorded. If you require support please contact your GP surgery using the number provided in the appointment confirmation.”

She continued: “By putting off small problems or regular appointments you could potentially be putting more strain on NHS emergency services so please, help us to help you, do not put anything off. Local GP surgeries are open and are there to offer medical advice and consult patients.”

After being offered a video consultation you will be sent a letter, email or text with details of your appointment. This communication will contain details of the service that has requested to see you by video and have provided a web address link. You can type or copy the web address link into a web browser via an internet enabled device and this will take you to the video clinic waiting area.

  • In order to access your virtual appointment, you will need:
  • Access to a device that will allow you to access the internet. You should use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge web browser on a desktop or laptop, or on an Android tablet or smartphone or Safari web browser on an Apple iMac, MacBook, iPad, or iPhone.
  • Your device will need a webcam (camera), speakers and microphone.
  • A good internet connection (if you can watch a YouTube video, this is good indication that you have a good connection).
  • An internet usage plan that is sufficient to cover the data consumption of a video call – ideally use a Wi-Fi connection if you have this available.

Sixty two percent of those surveyed by YouGov in Mid and West Wales said they will continue to access NHS services using the new ways that have been introduced as a result of the pandemic. The new methods include making more use of pharmacists; virtual GP consultations and using the NHS 111 online and telephone services.

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‘Cautious optimism’ for county’s tourism sector – but clarity still needed

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‘GIVE us clarity’ is the overriding message from the County’s tourism and hospitality businesses as the sector looks forward with cautious optimism to another busy season.

In a meeting hosted by Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, thirty key local businesses were able to share their views with Paul Davies MS, Pembrokeshire County Council, the National Park and Visit Pembrokeshire.

The meeting focussed on the need for business support measures so long as uncertainty remains over the timetable for re-opening the economy in Wales.

Stephen Crabb said: “There is a lot of belief around that this summer will see another ‘staycation’ boom so long as the vaccination programme continues to make good progress and infection rates fall. Pembrokeshire has had a lot of national media coverage in recent months and could experience a bumper season but it’s crucial we get the re-opening right. There is a clear need for some kind of timetable to help businesses prepare appropriately and for clear rules to avoid confusion and contradictory messages.”

Paul Davies said: “It was a pleasure to hear from tourism businesses across Pembrokeshire about some of the challenges that they’re currently facing. The message was pretty clear – they want clarity from the Welsh Government and some timescales by which they can start to plan for reopening. I’ll certainly be taking back the concerns highlighted during the meeting and raising them with Welsh Government Ministers at the Senedd.”

Emma Thornton from Visit Pembrokeshire added: “Great to attend the Hospitality and Tourism Round table event today and to have the opportunity to discuss the ongoing challenges our industry faces over the coming months but also to share a collective optimism for what we believe will be a really strong year for tourism in Pembrokeshire when we are able to reopen and welcome our visitors back.

“Visit Pembrokeshire as the new Destination Management (DMO) for Pembrokeshire will be working closely with local stakeholders and businesses to help realise this opportunity in a sustainable and responsible way mindful of protecting what makes our beautiful county so special”

Stephen Crabb: Wants clarity for tourism businesses

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