ALL NON-ESSENTIAL shops in Wales will be able to re-open from Monday (22 June) as part the biggest unlocking of the coronavirus regulations to date, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced today (Friday 19 June).
Retailers will be able to resume trading if they can take all reasonable measures to comply with the physical distancing duty in Welsh law to reduce the spread of coronavirus and protect shop workers and shoppers.
The changes are part of a comprehensive package of measures being introduced step by step every Monday over the next three weeks. Pupils will return to schools on 29 June and the requirement to stay local will be lifted, if conditions allow on 6 July.
The First Minister will today also alert the visitor and tourism industry to start preparations to reopen if the spread of the virus continues to decline.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The threat of coronavirus hasn’t gone away but thanks to the efforts we have all made over the last few months, the number of people contracting coronavirus each day in Wales is falling, so too is the risk of meeting somebody with virus.
“Given the progress we have made, we are able to take some additional cautious steps to further unlock our society and economy. This includes more retailers being able re-open their businesses, as long as they take measures to minimise the risk to their staff and to the customers who visit their stores.
“Our focus continues to be on the health risks of the outbreak, but we can now begin to cautiously focus much more squarely on the wider economic and societal impact the virus is having.
“We have provided a huge amount of support to businesses and jobs as they hibernated during the pandemic – now we start to take these careful steps to restart our economy.”
On Monday, a series of changes will be made to the coronavirus regulations – the main change will be to enable non-essential retail businesses to open.
They follow the fourth statutory review of the coronavirus regulations by Welsh Ministers, using the latest scientific and medical evidence from the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Cell (TAC) and the advice from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales.
Monday’s changes include: Enabling private prayer in places of worship where social distancing is maintained and gatherings do not take place;
Restarting the housing market by enabling house viewings to take place in vacant properties and house moves where a sale has been agreed but not yet completed;
Lifting the restrictions on outdoor sports courts but social distancing must be maintained. No contact or team sports will be allowed;
Enabling non-professional elite athletes, including Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, to resume training.
On June 29, pupils will be returning to schools to check in, catch up and prepare for summer and September under plans announced by Education Minister Kirsty Williams.
The requirement to stay local and not generally travelling more than five miles from home remains in place. However, new guidance will make it clear people are able to travel outside their local area on compassionate grounds. This includes seeing people at a care home or a youth offender institution – when these visits are allowed. People who are eligible to vote in overseas elections, where voting must be done in person, will also be able to travel.
Ministers have decided to lift the requirement to stay local on 6 July, provided the conditions allow. With the requirement lifted, people will be able to travel to tourist attractions across Wales.
The First Minister will today signal to some businesses and the visitor and tourism industry to use this period to begin to make preparations for reopening.
At the next review on 9 July, the Welsh Government will consider a range of specific options for opening:
Self-contained holiday accommodation;
Personal care services, such as hairdressing and beauty, by appointment.
Discussions will also be held with the hospitality sector about the potential phased reopening of pubs, cafes and restaurants while maintaining strict social distancing.
The First Minister added: “I know the wider tourism industry is keen to reopen and to salvage some of this summer’s season. I am therefore signalling owners of self-contained accommodation should use the next three weeks to prepare to re-open, working with their local communities.
“But I want people to know coronavirus has not gone away. We have some headroom to make this package of changes to the regulations, which will be introduced in a phased and cautious way in Wales.
“Many aspects of daily life in Wales will be moving into the amber zone in our traffic light system. But we all need to continue to take steps to protect ourselves from the virus – that means working from home wherever possible; avoiding unnecessary travel; only meeting with one other household outdoors; maintaining social distancing and washing your hands often. It may also mean wearing a face covering in some situations.
“It is thanks to the efforts of everyone in Wales that we have slowed the spread of coronavirus but we can’t stop now. We need to do all we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the virus and to keep Wales safe.”
Search for Susan Smith continues
THE search for missing Susan Smith is now in it’s third day. She was last seen on Saturday (Feb 27), walking in the Kidwelly area.
Speaking to The Herald, a police spokesperson said: “We are continuing to search for Susan Smith who has been reported missing.”
“The search is continuing today with specialist police officers making house to house enquiries in the Kidwelly, St Ishamels, Ferryside and surrounding areas.
Sergeant Fiona Phillips said: “It is important that we build a picture of Susan’s movements after she was last seen on Saturday and I would appeal to anyone who believes they may have seen her to contact police.”
Susan was last seen 1.30pm Saturday, February 27 2021, walking in the Carmarthen Bay Holiday Village, Kidwelly area. She is known to walk along the beach to St Ishmaels and Ferryside.
She is described as approximately 5ft2 inches tall, petite with shoulder length blonde hair and believed to be wearing black jeans, a black fleece type jacket and navy and grey walking boots.
Any who has seen Susan or anyone who may have information that could help the search is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police, quoting reference 285 of Saturday 27th February.
Police can be contacted either online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing email@example.com, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908
Isla to read 20 books in 20 days for lifesaving charity
A Bancyfelin bookworm has so-far raised over £300 for the Wales Air Ambulance in her first-ever fundraiser for charity.
Six-year-old Isla Wilson is taking part in the Charity’s My20 challenge and has chosen to read 20 books in 20 days during March.
The Wales Air Ambulance celebrates its 20th anniversary on March 1 and to acknowledge the milestone, the Charity has created a new fundraising event called My20. My20 allows the participant to set themselves a challenge, task or activity that relates to the number ’20’ which they will complete during March.
The Ysgol Bancyfelin pupil loves reading books to her younger sister, Ailish, 4 and has chosen a range of books to read in Welsh and English.
Some of the books that Isla has chosen to read include – The Elves and the Shoemaker, Peter Rabbit, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Chicken Lickin’ and Rapunzel.
Isla set herself the target of raising £50 and has already smashed that figure by raising £330 for the lifesaving Charity – even before her fundraiser has started.
Isla has received a lot of support from her friends, family and her school. The little bookworm has also been reading books virtually to family and friends in preparation.
Speaking about why she is raising money for the charity’s 24/7 service, Isla said: “I want to help keep the air ambulance awake all night. They help lots of people.”
Her dad, Tom Wilson, said: “We’re proud of Isla for wanting to raise money for the air ambulance. Isla and her sister have always enjoyed seeing the air ambulance in the air, but it wasn’t until recently that she understood the significance of the work the medics do. We’re are shocked she has raised over £300 already, especially as it’s her first fundraiser. We’re looking forward to listening to her reading throughout the challenge.”
Katie Macro, the Charity’s South West Wales Community Fundraiser, said: “It’s wonderful how Isla, at such a young age, understands the important work of the Wales Air Ambulance. It’s clear that she wants to take part in My20 because it helps those in need, showing her compassion and thought for others. We hope that people recognise this and donate to her fundraiser, which many already have.
“Thank you so much for supporting us, Isla. Every penny you raise will help people who need us. That makes you a lifesaver.”
You can show your support to Isla by sponsoring her via her Just Giving page – Isla’s Fy20 / My20 www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lisa-lewis51
For more information on the #MY20 challenge visit www.walesairambulance.com.
Blocked rail plans a ‘kick in the teeth’
POLITICIANS in Llanelli have vocalised their frustrations as plans for extra train services between west Wales and London have been ditched.
Grand Union Trains had been working on plans to run as many as seven daily returning rail services between Cardiff Central and Paddington from December 2021 and had been hoping to extend those services to both Llanelli and Carmarthen.
Those plans though, it seems, won’t be progressing any further as the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) have rejected the application. These rail plans have been rejected because of ORR concerns that it could have cost the UK Department of Transport millions of pounds.
An ORR spokesperson said: “After careful consideration we have decided not to approve Grand Union Trains’ application.
“At this time, and taking account of the pandemic’s impact on railway finances, we consider the passenger benefits would not outweigh the significant negative impact on public funds that this might have.”
Llanelli MS Lee Waters, Deputy Transport Minister in the Welsh Government, described the decision as “a real scandal”.
Lee Waters said “A plan to get a direct rail service from places like Llanelli to London has been blocked because it’s feared the DfT may get a bill if it doesn’t go to plan.”
MP for Llanelli, Nia Griffith said: “This is a real kick in the teeth.
“We in west Wales deserve to have as good connectivity as other parts of the country.
“We need more direct trains because it is the long-time gap between trains and poor connections with on-going services that really puts people off using trains now.
“More frequent services and more direct trains would attract more passengers.”
Grand Union Trains will fight the decision, which they have said could jeopardise 135 new jobs, and described it as ‘poorly forecasted’. They are currently seeking legal advice.
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