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Use of mandatory face masks and covid passes in Wales remain under review

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THE REQUIREMENT to wear face coverings and the use of covid passes for certain venues in Wales are set to remain under review.

Wales is set to complete its move back to alert level zero at the end of the month, removing the measures implemented on Boxing Day to help curb the spread of the omicron virus assuming there is no major change in covid.

This will see restrictions on large events, nightclubs and the legal requirement to work from home where possible removed.

The Welsh Government will also return to a 21 day review cycle of the measures having changed to weekly decision making before Christmas.

However there have been calls for ministers to go further and follow England by removing the ‘Plan B’ coronavirus restrictions, such as mask wearing and covid passes’, this Thursday.

The requirement to isolate after a positive test is expected to end in March when the current coronavirus regulations in England end.

Speaking at Friday’s press briefing First Minister Mark Drakeford refused to provide a date on when all remaining restrictions could be axed, saying that he is not a “horoscope writer”.

The first minister said: “It’s simply impossible for anybody to peer into the future with coronavirus with the solid definiteness that you were suggesting.

“What I will say is of course the Welsh Government wants as quickly and as safely as we can to lift the level of protections that we are all living with.

“Somewhere in the world today the next variant of coronavirus could be brewing. Two and a half months ago none of us had ever heard of the Omicron variant and yet in that period it has swept across our lives and now thankfully is we hope sweeping out of it again.

“When people talk about freedom days and doing things where there’s no reverse gear, I think they’re just flying in the face of the facts of this global pandemic.

“I am not going to offer people in Wales a set of artificial deadlines, peering into the future in a way that neither I nor anybody else can know what the circumstances of the time would be, I’m not going to do that.

“Part of the reason why I think we have managed to sustain the confidence of the majority of people in Wales, in the way the Welsh Government has acted, is because we haven’t been willing to make headline line grabbing promises, that we have no way of knowing whether we could keep.”

The requirement to wear a face mask in all indoor settings and on public transport in Wales has been one of the restrictions in place for the longest, having been introduced in September 2020.

Asked whether he would continue to wear a mask when it moves away from being mandatory and to instead being advisory, the first minister said he believed many people would choose to continue using a face covering. Regulations in Wales have always referred to ‘face coverings’ rather than higher quality masks.

He added that the likes of face covering and covid passes would be kept under review as part of the next 21 day cycle.

Mr Drakeford said: “We will review it on the 10 February because it’s part of the alert level zero measures and as I said in an earlier answer, the question we asked for advice on is, are those measures still necessary and proportionate given the state of the virus in Wales.

“If the advice is things are so good, you don’t need to have them in place we would respond to that advice. If the advice is they still form an important part of the defence, then that is what we will do.

“I think there will be many people who, on an advisory basis, finding themselves in places where there are lots of other people and where we know the risks are greater because you’re indoors and because our ventilation may not be as good as it otherwise would be, I think there will be lots of people who will choose to go on wearing masks because it gives them confidence that they’re keeping themselves safe and I would certainly consider that myself.”

He also defended the use of covid passes for large scale events in Wales, adding: “They protect people’s health and they help to keep businesses open.

“That is the result of research that has been reported this week, carried out across Europe and I believe it’s true in Wales as well.

“People are more likely to go to places where they know that everybody else there will have taken the same precautions as they have, either by being vaccinated or taking a lateral flow test

“That helps to keep them safe and it helps to keep people coming through the door of those businesses as well.”

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Two arrests in Haverfordwest after reports of man in possession of a knife

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THERE was a large police response following 999 calls made in Haverfordwest last night to reports of an affray involving an offensive weapon.

Multiple police units descended on Fleming Crescent just before nine o’clock on Thursday (May 19).

Two people were taken into police custody, where they remain, police confirmed.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We were called to a disturbance and reports of a man in possession of a knife in Fleming Crescent, Haverfordwest, at around 8.50pm on Thursday, 19 May.

“A 41-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of an offensive weapon, while a 33-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of affray.

“Both remain in police custody.”

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Grape expectations for Welsh Wine Week 2022

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THIS JUNE, Welsh vineyards will welcome guests from Wales and beyond to taste what Wales’ burgeoning wine sector has to offer during its annual Welsh Wine Week.

From Saturday 4th to Sunday 12th June, free events, competitions, expert guided tours and tastings will make up the Welsh Wine Week schedule and give wine lovers the chance to personally discover the country’s picturesque vineyards and sample their wide range of award-winning vintages.

Special product releases will take place during Welsh Wine Week to commemorate the event, including Pembrokeshire’s Velfrey Vineyard’s Cuvée Reserve Sparkling Brut, a 2019 vintage traditional method sparkling brut wine, made especially from the vineyard’s Seyval Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes.

Confirmed events for Welsh Wine Week 2022 include: a cheese and Welsh wine sampling event from Gwinllan Conwy (in collaboration with Bodnant Welsh Food), White Castle Vineyard will be holding a tasting of their wines with Fine Wines Direct and there will be free vineyard tours and wine tastings across the week from Parva Farm vineyard.

Andy Mounsey, owner of Velfrey Vineyard and Chairman of the Welsh Vineyard Association, said: “Whether you relish in a red, white, rosé or sparkling wine, Welsh Wine Week is the perfect opportunity to show consumers what the Welsh wine industry has to offer.

“Wales is making strides in its wine production and has proudly adopted an innovative approach in which its experimental and diverse with the wine it produces. Wine producers are working collaboratively to drive the industry forward and championing each other, creating a supportive and closely connected network of vineyards.

“We have all been waiting fondly for the return of Welsh Wine Week and will mark the first event with no restrictions with a stellar line up of producers. We hope to welcome many more wine enthusiasts into our businesses this year, so please sign up to our events and treat yourself to some quality Welsh wine as you do.”

Full event listings and access to exclusive competitions and interviews with Welsh vineyards can be found on the dedicated Welsh Wine Week website.

Welsh Wine Week is organised by the Welsh Drinks Cluster, funded by Welsh Government, which works in partnership with Welsh drinks producers to promote the industry and its production of world class products.

For more information go to: https://www.welshwineweek.co.uk/

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Warm Pembrokeshire welcome for Ukrainians fleeing from war

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE community has been preparing a warm welcome to Ukrainian people fleeing the devastating war in their homeland.

Across Pembrokeshire, people have been signing up to become sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine scheme – one of the formal routes by which Ukrainian people can make their way to the UK, having been matched with a local family.

To date, Pembrokeshire has seen over 75 households signing up to the scheme.

As part of the formal process for becoming a sponsor, Pembrokeshire County Council is undertaking checks to ensure that people arriving from Ukraine are being offered safe and comfortable environments in which to live.

When people arrive with their sponsor household, contact is made by the Council to welcome them, support them with any immediate needs and ensure that they know where they can get information and advice.

The Pembrokeshire Community Hub, a partnership between Pembrokeshire County Council, PAVS and Volunteering Matters, is also working with Council teams and community groups to ensure that people are offered a warm welcome to the county.

People who are hosting and sponsoring families arriving from Ukraine are being equipped with information packs to help them prepare for their guests’ arrival and are also being invited to become part of an online support network, where they can connect and support one another.

The support has led to positive feedback from local people hosting Ukrainians with compliments for the level of assistance and support provided.

Community groups are also establishing themselves across the County, offering a range of support to those arriving.

This includes spaces to meet, organised community gatherings and fundraising activities.

Through the Community Hub and with support of PAVS, these groups are also being encouraged to join Pembrokeshire Community Support Network – Ukraine, where they can get up to date information, share with one another and get support when needed.

If you are looking to support people arriving from Ukraine, or are already doing so, and would like more information, please contact the Pembrokeshire Community Hub on 01437 776301 or ukrainecommunityresponse@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

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