ALL of Wales will be placed under lockdown from midnight with festive plans cancelled for all but Christmas Day.
First Minister Mark Drakeford made the announcement after urgent talks with ministers over a new strain of coronavirus, The Herald can confirm.
From December 23 to to December 28 rules had been due to be relaxed to allow people to celebrate the holidays with loved-ones.
But now this is limited to just Christmas Day.
Announcing the strict measures Mr Drakeford said: “While we all want to avoid further disruption to businesses and plans for Christmas, our overriding duty is to protect lives here in Wales, we know that 2021 will be a different and a better year. Our economy will recover. Christmas will come again.”
The changes mean that a Wales-wide lockdown, which was due to come into effect from 28 December, has been brought forward and will begin at midnight tonight.
All of Wales will be placed into the highest level of lockdown – Level 4 – with all but essential shops closed, and people being told to “stay home” to save lives.
Gyms, beauty salons, bars and pubs, and non-essential shops will have to close at the end of trading today, with people only being able to travel for “essential reasons”.
Commenting on the new restrictions announced tonight, Paul Davies MS, Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has said:
“Having been briefed by the First Minister today, I can fully appreciate the need for more severe restrictions in Wales, especially where infection rates are high, and the new strain of the virus is circulating.
“I know that many people will be disappointed as they were looking forward to seeing their loved ones this Christmas, but in the face of the emerging evidence it is clear that Christmas bubble arrangements must change.
“By working together and keeping to the rules we can ensure as many people as possible will be around to celebrate Christmas together in the years to come.”
<strong>First Minister statement – 19 December</strong>
Today, I met the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Michael Gove, from the UK Government, to discuss the very latest information on a new strain of coronavirus.
We now know that this new strain is significantly more infectious and spreads more quickly than the original one.
Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister this afternoon setting out the pattern of transmission in London and the South East of England, which has been linked to this new variant of coronavirus.
This is remarkably consistent with the rapid acceleration of transmission in Wales and the high rates of cases we have seen in recent weeks.
The latest evidence suggests this new strain is present throughout Wales.
Throughout the public health emergency, we have had to respond quickly to the rapid changes, which have been so typical of coronavirus.
Today has been one of those days when new information has required an immediate response.
This afternoon, the Cabinet met to discuss this worrying new development in the pandemic and to hear the latest advice from our senior medical and scientific advisers, including the impact on our NHS.
The situation is incredibly serious. I cannot overstate this.
We have therefore reached the difficult decision to bring forward the alert level four restrictions for Wales, in line with the action being taken in London and the South East of England.
These new restrictions will come into effect from midnight tonight instead of during the Christmas period.
This will mean non-essential retail, close contact services, gyms and leisure centres and hospitality will close at the end of trading today.
Stay-at-home restrictions will also come into effect from midnight.
Unfortunately, we must also look again at the arrangements for Christmas – we cannot expose people to the risk of this new, more virulent strain of coronavirus.
We will therefore change the current rules, which allow two households to come together to form a Christmas bubble over a five-day period, so that they will apply on Christmas Day only.
Throughout the alert level four period, a single person household will be able to join with one other household.
While we all want to avoid further disruption to businesses and plans for Christmas, our overriding duty is to protect lives here in Wales.
We know that 2021 will be a different and a better year.
Our economy will recover.
Christmas will come again.
But lives which are lost, are lost for ever.
This new strain of the virus is another dreadful surprise in this long-running pandemic.
We now have a pandemic within a pandemic, a crisis within a crisis.
It is another challenge we must overcome. But one we will overcome together.
We will continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and, together, we will keep Wales safe.
Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi gyd.
Moving the Welsh Economy Forward: “A Team Wales recovery, built by all of us” – Economy Minister
THE WELSH GOVERNMENT will pursue a progressive economic policy that focuses on better jobs, narrowing the skills divide and tackling poverty, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, will say today.
At a hybrid Economic Summit, the Minister has invited businesses, trades unions and local government leaders to discuss how Wales can create a stronger, fairer, greener economic future.
In setting out his vision to move the Welsh economy forward, the Minister will commit to extending a Team Wales model to offer ‘as much certainty as possible’ for businesses facing a volatile recovery.
He will promise a new era of partnership to strengthen regional economic development, a delivery plan to back the everyday economy and wide ranging support for workers in a fast changing economy.
The Welsh Government will work with unions and business to develop it’s ‘something for something’ approach so that Welsh public money is wedded to action on fair work, decarbonisation and skills.
The Minister will also start a conversation about the long term demographic challenge facing the Welsh economy. The proportion of the population aged 16 to 64 years old in Wales has been decreasing year-on-year since mid-2008 – and could be just 58% of the population by 2043.
In response, Welsh Ministers’ approach will be geared towards creating an economy where more young people feel confident about planning their future in Wales thus supporting job creation and more dynamic local economies.
The Welsh Government will set out a vision of what makes Wales an attractive place to live, study, work and invest – including the quality of life in an inclusive, open and green nation.
The Welsh Government will also call on the Chancellor to demonstrate the UK Government’s ambition for Wales by honouring promises made on EU successor funds, backing major renewables such as tidal energy and investing in Welsh research and development.
Later, the Minister will visit a family-run business that’s received Welsh Government support to grow, before delivering a speech to a predominantly virtual audience of business, trades unions and local government leaders and other partners at Transport for Wales’ new HQ in Pontypridd.
Speaking ahead of the summit, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “The Welsh Government is taking bold action to build a stronger, fairer, greener Welsh economy. It has taken a Team Wales effort to keep Wales safe and we will deliver a Team Wales Recovery, built by all of us.
“A strong Welsh recovery will be based on the principles of fair work and sustainability as we invest in the industries and services of the future.
“As we face the headwinds of Brexit, I am determined that our credible plans will offer as much certainty as possible to help businesses plan ahead.
“A new era of partnership for stronger regions, a young person’s guarantee, a plan to back our everyday economy and collaboration with world leading, advanced manufacturing. This is the cause for optimism for the future we are building in Wales.
“My ambition is to make Wales a place where more young people feel confident in planning their future here. You don’t have to get out to get on, make your future here in Wales.”
The Welsh Government’s approach includes:
- Investing in our people – through the Young Person’s Guarantee and a strong employability and skills offer, including Apprenticeships;
- Supporting those furthest away from the Labour market to find work. The upcoming Employability Strategy will highlight the support available for individuals, particularly those most impacted by the pandemic and furthest away from the labour market;
- Accelerating the adaptation to new skills which are required for skilled, secure jobs, not least in the area of low carbon. The current recruitment challenge has also shown there is a need for some quick action on skills in certain sectors;
- Exploring how we retain our graduates and talent in Wales by building strong linkages with universities, and between universities and businesses;
- Support start-ups, including graduate start-ups, with possible incentives in some areas;
- Ensure we have firms grounded in Wales who can provide future opportunities;
- Wales can also benefit from the opportunities for far greater remote working and flexible commuting options.
Welsh Conservatives pay tribute to murdered MP, Sir David Amess
THE WELSH CONSERVATIVES have released a statement following the murder of serving Member of Parliament, Sir David Amess on Friday (Oct 15).
Paul Davies MS said: “We are horrified by the death of Sir David Amess.
“Sir David was a much-respected and well-liked MP who cared deeply about serving his constituents, something he had done with distinction for nearly four decades.
“One of the longest-serving Members of Parliament, his contribution to public life was vast and he will be sorely missed by those in Southend and in the Conservative Party.
“Sadly, this shocking and abhorrent incident once again highlights the dangers that public servants can face, all of whom should be able to conduct such duties helping those they represent in safety.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends. May he rest in peace.”
Stephen Crabb MP took to social media to say: “Love and prayers for the family of Sir David Amess MP this afternoon. Just devastating. Funny, wise, compassionate, and such a good friend to so many of us.
“It was a delight to interview Sir David Amess back in May for a virtual book launch for his autobiography. So much warmth, humanity and love of the job he did so assiduously for almost 40 years. Parliament has lost one of its finest today.”
The MP for Southend West was stabbed at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex. He was there for one of his regular Friday meetings with his constituents.
Just 15 minutes before the attack, the 69-year-old was standing on the church steps, chatting and laughing with locals.
At around 12:05 PM, Sir David walked into the church alongside two female members of his staff to meet some more constituents.
Local councillor John Lamb said that it was then that the attacker emerged from a small group of waiting constituents and attacked Sir David, stabbing him several times.
“I’m told that when he went in for his surgery there were people waiting to see him, and one of them literally got a knife out and just began stabbing him,” Mr Lamb said.
Police arrived at the scene in Eastwood Road North within minutes where they found the MP with multiple injuries and arrested a man.
“We knew it must be very serious because the paramedics had been working on Sir David for over two and a half hours and they hadn’t got him on the way to hospital,” Mr Lamb told the PA news agency.
At 14:13 an air ambulance arrived at a nearby sports ground to move him to hospital. However, members of his team began to fear the worst as paramedics remained at the scene.
Shortly before 15:00, Essex Police said Sir David had died.
At a press conference later Chief Constable BJ Harrington said officers and paramedics had worked extremely hard to save the MP.
Questions are now being raised about security arrangements for politicians working in their constituencies.
Ambitious Attitude at Choose2Reuse
LEE WATERS MS has spoken of how impressed he is with Llanelli based Choose2Reuse CIC who are doing their bit for the environment, community and for the local economy.
Llanelli’s Member of the Senedd, who is also Deputy Minister for Climate Change, recently revisited the social enterprise to meet with Tanya Igic and Tony Holmes co-founders of Choose2Reuse at their units in Trostre Industrial Park.
The local MS was keen to learn more about how Choose2Reuse operate and how its work helps the local environment. Mr Waters discussed future plans the founders have for Choose2Reuse.
Although the organisation already have number of clothing banks, they are hoping to place many more of the same with local shops and charitable organisations. They also have a smaller clothing bins/drums to go inside shop premises.
Lee Waters MS commented: “Choose2Reuse are already exporting 100-150 tonnes of recycled goods abroad each month and prevent them from ending up in a landfill site. It is great to know unused goods from our local community are being recycled and helping local and people all across the world”.
Tanya Igic said: “It was great that Lee could come to our Trostre site and see the work we are doing. We have had several constructive conversations and I am excited about what the future holds. We have ambition to develop our projects and I am glad our local MS can see that.”
Waters MS went on the comment: “We all have to do our bit to recycle the products we have. We must learn to either re-use items ourselves or give them to people who will. The Welsh Government has ambitious climate change targets, including reaching net zero Carbon emissions by 2050. Organizations such as Choose2Reuse will greatly help get closer to achieving our aims. “
News6 days ago
Police: New scientific evidence shows that David Morris was correctly convicted
Business1 week ago
Family of property developers sentenced for fifteen counts of fraud
News4 days ago
Man jailed for assaulting three officers during arrest
News2 weeks ago
Parents’ tribute to ‘perfect baby girl’ following fatal collision in Llanelli
Sport4 days ago
Llangennech youth go top
News2 weeks ago
New housing plan will help to transform Llanelli’s Tyisha ward
Sport1 week ago
Trimsaran secure top spot
News2 weeks ago
Ambitious Attitude at Choose2Reuse