THIS Friday (Dec 16) the First Minister will set out a two-phase plan to respond to the current delta variant and the new, fast-moving, easily transmissible omicron variant, which is expected to be the dominant form of the virus in the UK by the end of the month.
The Welsh Government is issuing strong guidance to support people across Wales through the Christmas period.
Wales will then introduce new restrictions, including for businesses and services – from 27 December. These will include a 2m rule on social distancing in offices and putting extra measures in place to protect customers and staff, such as one-way systems and physical barriers.
Nightclubs will also close. These tougher restrictions are needed to help control the spread of omicron.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Delta will continue to be the main cause of coronavirus infections in Wales up to Christmas. But we are seeing cases of omicron increasing rapidly every day in Wales – and across the UK.
“We need a plan to keep us safe this Christmas and we need stronger measures to protect us afterwards, as we prepare for a large wave of omicron infections.
“Omicron poses a new threat to our health and safety. It is the most serious development in the pandemic to date.
“It is one we must take seriously. We will continue to put in place proportionate measures to protect people’s lives and livelihoods.
“This is a virus which thrives on human contact. Every contact we have is an opportunity for us to spread or catch the virus.”
The First Minister will urge everyone to follow five simple steps for a safer Christmas, as he says the more people we see in the run-up to Christmas, the more opportunities the virus has to spread.
Reducing our contact with others, especially if we are seeing older people or more vulnerable people over Christmas, will help to protect them from the virus.
To stay safe in the run up to Christmas, the Welsh Government is strongly advising everyone to follow these five measures to stay safe:
• Get vaccinated – and if you’ve had your booster appointment, please make attending your priority.
• If you’re going out, going Christmas shopping, or visiting people – flow before you go. Take a lateral flow test. If it’s positive – don’t go out.
• Meeting outdoors is better than indoors. If you’re meeting indoors make sure it’s well ventilated.
• Space out your socialising – if you’ve got events arranged, please leave at least a day between them.
• And don’t forget about social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing your hands.
The regulations will also be changed to include a requirement to work from home wherever possible.
After Christmas, on 27 December new legal restrictions will come into force, to help protect against the spread of the omicron variant.
The Welsh Government has announced up to £60m will be available to support businesses affected by the new restrictions.
The First Minister added: “This year a smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas. The fewer people we see, the less chance we have of catching or passing on the virus.
“Please enjoy Christmas with your nearest and dearest – and think about meeting up with wider circles of friends when the threat posed by the omicron variant has passed over.
“I also want to thank the many thousands of people who will be working this Christmas to keep us safe – especially all those who have cancelled their plans to work in the vaccination centres across Wales to increase our protection against this awful virus.”
BUSINESSES MUST BE PROTECTED SAYS ANDREW RT DAVIES
Commenting ahead of tomorrow’s latest COVID announcement, Welsh Conservative leader, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “The Omicron variant is spreading extremely fast in the UK – and the doubling rate in some areas is now down to less than two days. In Wales, we are still predominantly dealing with Delta, but it’s widely accepted the new variant will become the dominant strain, particularly in the New Year.
“Personal responsibility has always been crucial during the pandemic and that remains the case. “Serious consideration must be given to public health messaging as I’m sure I speak on behalf of the nation when we say we want to see as normal a Christmas as possible.
“However, there are significant concerns over the potential impact on workforce availability across key sectors including the NHS and social care. It’s imperative the Welsh Government works with the UK Government to ensure we can best protect public services and the supply chain moving forward.
“Some Welsh businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, are already seeing a significant impact on trade in wake of Omicron, and Labour ministers must use the £500 million of unallocated COVID support sitting in government coffers to help firms and protect jobs.
“It’s clear ministers of all colours across the UK are facing a challenging public health picture in an uncertain period. However, any consideration and implementation of restrictions must be evidence-based and have an impact on tackling the virus, unlike vaccine passports.”
Public Services Board seeks views to improve local well-being
CARMARTHENSHIRE’S Public Services Board (PSB) is seeking residents’ views to find out what matters to them and their local communities.
The PSB has developed its Well-being Objectives and draft actions to deliver them, based on feedback received on its Well-being Assessment. The results of a survey at that time gathered views and helped shape the PSB’s understanding of the economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors that impact the well-being of individuals and communities within Carmarthenshire.
Once again, residents are being asked to contribute to help public service partners develop Carmarthenshire’s Local Well-being Plan for 2023-28.
To help shape the future of well-being please visit: Current Consultations (gov.wales)
The survey closes on 25 January 2023.
Cllr Darren Price, Chair of the Carmarthenshire PSB and Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “To deliver what is important to our communities, we need to their feedback and input. This survey is an opportunity for our residents to tell us if we, as public services, are on the right track to help create a better future for our children’s generation, and the generations to follow, as we strive to reach this goal.”
Andrew Cornish, Vice-Chair of the PSB andChief Executive Officer / Principal of Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion said: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our work so far. Our Well-being Assessment gives us a strong foundation on which to build our Well-being Plan and I would like to encourage everyone to take part in our involvement work for the preparation of the Plan.”
Carmarthenshire’s Public Services Board is a partnership of public and third sector organisations working together to improve well-being across the county and includes Carmarthenshire County Council, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Natural Resources Wales and other organisations.
Llanelli prepares for Sunday’s Remembrance Day parade
LATER TODAY (Sunday, November 13) the town will honour those who have fallen in service over the decades.
A number of roads will be closed on the day, including Murray Street, Church Street and Vauxhall Road from its junction with the mini roundabout.
These will be shut for the parade between 8.30am and noon, however, pedestrian access for those wishing to reach individual properties in those streets will be maintained where possible throughout the duration of the closure.
Traffic will be diverted to Robinson Street, Arthur Street, Columbia Row, Anne Street, Bigyn Road, Stepney Place, Water Street, Thomas Street and Gelli Onn.
At 10am, police, organisations and others not marching in the parade will take up their respective positions in front of the cenotaph in the town hall grounds, while the civic party will assemble inside Llanelli Town Hall.
At 10.15am the parade leaves Drill Hall for the town hall with the mayor Cllr Philip Warlow proceeding to the Boer War Memorial where he will lay a wreath.
When the parade arrives at the town hall, the civic party will proceed to the cenotaph where the Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed Sara Edwards, will lay a wreath.
This will be followed by the chair of Carmarthenshire Council Cllr Rob Evans, laying a wreath on the Royal Welch War Memorial and then on the town’s cenotaph.
More wreaths will be laid by dignitaries and politicians and ex-servicemen and women A two-minute silence will then be observed at 11am.
Any service groups or individuals who wish to lay a wreath on Remembrance Sunday can contact Paul Wickers via email at email@example.com.
While community organisations are to contact Llanelli Town Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact should be made by Monday, October 31 at the very latest to confirm arrangements as no additional wreaths will be able to be accommodated on the day.
Llanelli choir launches fundraising naked calendar
MEMBERS of a Llanelli female choir have bared all to raise money for the town’s Ty Bryngwyn Hospice.
Côr Curiad has created a cheeky fundraising calendar for 2023 – the second one they have done.
With around 50 members, photos were taken across Llanelli with strategically placed items to spare their blushes – all in the name of a good cause.
Llanelli photographer Graham Harries was behind the lens for the project.
The choir’s musical director Alex Esney, who is Miss December in the calendar said: “Local businesses sponsored the calendar and so many of the photos were taken at their premises.
“So for example we went to LTC Mobility Ltd and had scooters carefully positioned in front of us, it was a lot of fun.
“I also want to thank Ffwrnes Theatre for opening up especially for me to go and have my photo taken with the piano there.”
Alex said the aim is to raise as much as possible for the hospice, adding: “We did a calendar a few years ago but we now have more members so we thought it was time to do it all again.
“The ladies decided to ‘bare all’ to raise money for the hospice which provides such great care and support for families in their time of need, including two of our own.
“I think we pulled out all the stops this year, getting their clothes off at local businesses in and around Llanelli.”