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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Denbighshire goes into coronavirus lockdown


New coronavirus restrictions are being introduced in four local authority areas in North Wales – Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham – following a rise in cases, Health Minister Vaughan Gething has just announced.

The new measures will come into force at 6pm on Thursday 1 October, to protect people’s health and control the spread of the virus in the four areas.

The new restrictions will apply to everyone living in Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham:

  • People will not be allowed to enter or leave each of these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education;
  • People will only be able to meet people they don’t live with outdoors for the time being. They will not be able to form, or be in, extended households;

The restrictions will be in addition to the rules that apply everywhere in Wales, including:

  • All licensed premises must stop selling alcohol at 10pm
  • Everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public areas – as is the case across Wales.

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

“Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in coronavirus cases in four north Wales local authority areas – in Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham and Conwy. These are largely linked to people socialising indoors and are the pattern of transmission similar to what we have seen in South Wales.

“We have worked closely with local authority leaders and the police in North Wales and we all agree about the need to take swift action to control and the spread of the virus.

“Large parts of Wales will now be subject to local restrictions but I want to be clear – this is not a national lockdown. These are a series of local restrictions to respond to rises in cases in individual areas.

“It’s always difficult to make the decision to impose restrictions but we hope that these measures will make a positive difference – just as we have seen in Caerphilly and Newport, where local residents have pulled together and followed the rules.

“It is important we all work together and support each other. This isn’t just about protecting ourselves, it’s about protecting each other.”

The restrictions are being introduced following a rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in coronavirus, which have been linked to people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from summer holidays overseas.

The Welsh Government met with local authorities, health boards and police across North Wales today (29 September) to discuss the situation across the region, and what measures could be taken to prevent the further spread of the virus and how to protect people’s health.

The local restrictions will not be introduced in Anglesey or Gwynedd at this stage, where cases are lower.

The new local restrictions will be kept under regular review. They will be enforced by local authorities and by the police.

Keep Wales safe by:

  • Always keeping your distance
  • Washing your hands regularly
  • Working from home wherever you can
  • Following any local restrictions
  • Following the rules about meeting people
  • Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.

Government's new £140m boost for businesses

* Llangollen businesses could benefit from Welsh Government cash support. 

Tourism and hospitality businesses  in Llangollen could benefit from an additional £140 million being made available by the Welsh Government.

The new cash for businesses is aimed at helping them deal with the challenges of coronavirus and the UK’s exit from EU, Economy Minister Ken Skates has announced.

The funding from the third phase of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) will see wider support being provided to secure jobs and help businesses develop, as well as additional help for firms affected by local lockdowns.

To date, the ERF has delivered almost £300 million of support to more than 13,000 companies in Wales. This has helped to protect in excess of 100,000 jobs which might otherwise have been lost.

This new phase of the ERF will see £80 million being made available to support businesses with projects that can help them transition to the economy of tomorrow.

It will require co-investment from companies and a clear plan about how they will adjust to the post-covid economy.

Of this, £20 million will be ring fenced to support tourism and hospitality businesses who are facing particular challenges as they enter the winter months.

Meanwhile, an additional £60 million will be allocated to support businesses impacted by local lockdown restrictions.

The rest of the funding will be used flexibly to provide additional support, for example to increase lending to Welsh businesses through Development Bank of Wales initiatives and to help companies deal with the impacts of the UK leaving the European Union.

The ERF has been designed to complement and build on the support offered by the UK Government.

Ken Skates said: “Our Economic Resilience Fund has been absolutely crucial in supporting businesses throughout Wales in dealing with the economic challenges of the coronavirus and helping protect the livelihoods of more than 100,000 people.

“The next phase of the fund, worth £140 million, builds on that success, helping us to secure jobs and enabling businesses to continue to develop and grow in these challenging times. There is also a specific part of the fund earmarked to support businesses affected by local lockdowns.

“This additional help has been designed to complement and build on the support announced by the Chancellor last week, again demonstrating the Welsh Government’s proactive approach to go above and beyond in providing extra financial assistance that we know our businesses and workers need.

“The £80 million worth of business development grants will be open to micro businesses, SMEs and large businesses.”

Micro businesses (employing between 1 and 9 people) will be able to apply for up to £10,000 on the condition they match this with their own investment of at least 10%.

SMEs (employing between 10 and 249 people) will be able to apply for up to £150,000 on the condition they match this with their own investment of at least 10% for small business (1 to 49 staff) and 20% for medium sized (50 to 249) business.

Large businesses (employing 250+ people) will be able to apply for up to £200,000 on the condition they match this with their own investment of at least 50%.

Companies that received grant funding through phases one and two of the ERF, or Non-Domestic Rate linked support, could also be eligible for phase three of the ERF.

The Minister added: “We are going through a time like no other. Coronavirus and the increasing risk of the UK reaching the end of the European Union transition period without a deal have placed incredible challenges on our businesses.

“As a Welsh Government, we continue to do all we can to back our businesses, our workers and our communities.”

Monday, September 28, 2020

Oak Street Gallery hosts work by artist Carys Haf Roberts

* Above and below: Work on display by artists 

Carys Haf Roberts at Oak Street Gallery.

Oak Street Galley is currently exhibiting the work of Carys Haf Roberts. 

A gallery spokesperson said: "Her beautiful colours and deep sense and love of the local landscape comes through in all her work. Her work is full of joy and gratitude and a perfect antidote for our times. 

"So please stop by to see her paintings, prints, greeting cards, bookmarks."

The gallery will be open Thursday through Sunday (11am-5pm) and viewable anytime through the windows. 

The current exhibition is on until October 18.


Sunday, September 27, 2020

MP praises railway's Covid fightback

Simon Baynes MP and Liz McGuinness at Llangollen Railway.

Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes met with the chair of Llangollen Railway, Liz McGuiness, to learn more about their very successful re-opening following the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the visit, Mr Baynes and Liz McGuiness discussed the changes that have been made since re-opening, such as enhanced cleaning regimes, an advanced booking system and hand sanitising stations.

They travelled in the steam train to Carrog, where the tea-room was very busy, then back to Llangollen.

Mr Baynes praised Liz McGuiness and all the staff  and volunteers at Llangollen Railway for their efforts in ensuring that all visitors, staff  and volunteers can enjoy their experience at Llangollen Railway safely. 

He also learnt more about how they have weathered the Coronavirus crisis through fundraising and a grant of £161,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

They continue to invest in the railway infrastructure, particularly in Corwen where the Corwen Group is making big strides in restoring the station, and also see a steady income stream from their engineering department.

Liz McGuinness said: “We are really grateful for the support received by Simon during the past months. The volunteers and staff have worked extremely hard and we are looking forward to our Santa season and to a great 2021.”

Simon Baynes MP said: “Following their fundraising events earlier in the year, it is great to see that the Llangollen Railway has re-opened with the appropriate social distancing guidelines. 

"The railway is a terrific tourist attraction and I look forward to seeing it continue to bounce back following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"I fully agree with the Prime Minister’s comments about the Llangollen Railway in May in Parliament when he said it had a “fabulous future.”

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Hundreds turn up for their jabs at the Pavilion drive-through flu clinic

* The long but orderly queue of cars waiting for their flu jabs at the Pavilion this morning.
At least 800 people had turned up by lunchtime for today's drive-through flu vaccination day at the Pavilion.
And with the session, run by staff from Llangollen Health Centre, due to last until 5pm this evening many more are likely to take advantage of the special clinic aimed solely at patients born before April 1 1956.
Volunteers from the Tidy Town Team helped with the arrangements which saw scores of vehicles pulling into the car park to be formed into a long queue winding its way through the eisteddfod field to the front of the Pavilion where medical staff were carrying out the vaccinations through their wound-down windows.
After their "jabs" the vehicles, all travelling in one direction, were directed out again through the other car park exit.  
Only people arriving by car were allowed to take part. 
The health centre's Tessa Orton-Jones said later that a total of 1,547 patients enventually received immunisation during the day.

* Part of the queue waiting on the Pavilion car park for their turn.

Mike calls halt to his Tai Chi classes at Plas Newydd

Mike Gleed, who has been running his popular weekly Tai Chi exercise sessions in the grounds of Plas Newydd for the past few months, has decided to call a halt to them.

In a message to llanblogger he says: "I have decided that the last meeting of our Tai Chi/Chi Kung group will be next Thursday, October 1. 

"It has been a pleasure and such a nice group of people/friends. 

"It has been beneficial health-wise and also socially with us respecting social distancing during exercise and afterwards with the cafe. 

"I'd like to thanks the Plas Newydd management for allowing us to use such a fabulous venue. 

"I hope that those who attended will continue the exercises at home and stay safe and well. 

"Thank you to those who attended and contributed to the experience." 

People urged to use NHS COVID-19 app

People across Wales are being urged to download the NHS COVID-19 app to help stop the spread of coronavirus and protect themselves and their loved ones as case numbers rise.

The app has been launched after positive trials and the Welsh Government says it will be a useful tool when used alongside Wales’ own manual contact tracing system.

It will be available to those aged 16 and over, and forms a central part of the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.

The roll-out of the app in Wales coincides with a national campaign around how people in Wales can best support the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme, including only getting  a test if they are showing symptoms; self-isolating when required; and working with local contact tracers if they are contacted.

Wales’ contact tracing system - which is a publicly-run service and locally delivered - is working well, says the government, and has seen a very high contract and trace rate. Latest stats show 94% of cases are being successfully contacted.

The new app works by logging the amount of time you spend near other app users, and the distance between you, so it can alert you if someone you have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if you don’t know each other.

The app will advise you to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable you to check symptoms, book a test if needed and get your test results.

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “The launch of the NHS COVID-19 app is an important part of Wales’ coronavirus response, supporting the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme. The more people who download and use this app, the more it will help us to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

“We have worked closely with the app development team to ensure it works seamlessly across Wales and England, providing people with the right advice based on where they live. In Wales, the app will complement our existing contact tracing and testing services and will further support our co-ordinated response to COVID-19 at both a local and national level.

“I strongly encourage everyone in Wales to download and use the app to keep Wales safe.”

The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus, not people and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy. 

The system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices via Bluetooth. These unique random IDs regenerate frequently to add an extra layer of security and preserve anonymity.

The app does not hold personal information such as your name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of your postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed.

The UK’s major mobile network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin, have confirmed that all in-app activity will not come out of customers’ data allowance.

In a joint statement Apple and Google said: “We built the exposure notifications system to enable public health authorities in their efforts to develop apps to help reduce the spread of the virus while ensuring people can trust in the privacy-preserving design. We are committed to supporting the government’s effort to launch an app based on this technology.”

  • The app is available for smartphones only - not tablets, smartwatches or other devices.
    To get started, go to Android's Google Play or Apple's App Store and search for "NHS Covid-19".
    The handsets must have Android 6.0 (released in 2015) or iOS 13.5 (released in May 2020) and Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. That excludes the iPhone 6 and older versions of Apple's handsets.