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Welsh Government announces £200m support for small businesses in wake of coronavirus outbreak

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THE WELSH GOVERNMENT has today announced a package of support worth more than £200m for small businesses to help them during the coronavirus outbreak.

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in Llanelli with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% business rate relief and pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £100,000 will receive a £5,000 reduction on their bill.

A further £100m will be available for a new grant scheme for small businesses Further details on this new grant scheme will be confirmed as soon as possible.

Welcoming this announcement, Lee Waters MS, said: “I’m pleased that the Welsh Labour Government is offering this package of support to businesses as part of their response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

“They are doing everything they can to support businesses to deal with the impact of coronavirus. My advice to all businesses is to use the help and advice that is available.

“Any business affected should contact the Business Wales telephone helpline on 03000 603000. They can help with practical advice – from staffing to financial planning as well as supply chain support.

“The Development Bank of Wales is also available to help – it has equity and loan funding it can make available immediately to small businesses to help them through the cash flow and other challenges they may face in next, difficult, few weeks and months. The Development Bank of Wales can be contacted on 0800 5874140.”

Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans AM, said: “We are allocating every penny of the funding we will be receiving as a consequence of the schemes the UK Government announced in England last week to support businesses in Wales.

“But I know that helping businesses with their rates bills will not be enough to protect them from the severe drop in custom many are experiencing as coronavirus cases increase.

“We will be calling on the UK Government to act quickly and decisively to provide a very significant support package for vulnerable businesses and their employees.”

Please find below links to current information issued that you may find useful for your business and continuity.

A number of announcements were made in the March 2020 Budget including financial support that businesses can expect to access:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

In terms of Department for Work and Pensions support for employers, here is a useful link (via GOV.UK): https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses?utm_source=37472ed5-c0b4-4625-8801-549259dc908d&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
Further and complementary advice can also be found on the Business Wales Website: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice

Visit Wales also provide some specific advice for tourism businesses regarding the situation. This can be found by following:
https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKWALES/bulletins/280805d

We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice at: https://phw.nhs.wales/coronavirus

There is also updated information regarding the virus on the Welsh Government website. Please view: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan

We are also starting to see banks such as Lloyds offering support via low interest loans sources. We will update this information as further opportunities come forward.

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Welsh vaccine plant evacuated after receiving suspicious package

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A PLANT where doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are produced and stored has been evacuated after receiving a suspicious package.

Police have confirmed to Herald Wales that officers were at Wrexham Industrial Estate in Ash Road, Holt.

John Roberts, who runs CMS Wrexham Ltd, next door to the plant, said he heard a “big bang” at about 11:35 HRS.

Wockhardt UK has confirmed that the plant has been evacuated after receiving a suspicious package.

A statement on its Twitter account said: “Wockhardt UK in Wrexham this morning received a suspicious package.

“Relevant authorities have responded and upon expert advice we have partially evacuated the site pending a full investigation.

“The safety of our employees and business continuity remain of paramount importance.”

A technician at the plant, Ian Hunter, said that the bomb disposal experts from the Royal Logistic Corps had arrived on scene.

Mark Drakeford said: “We are working with local police and the military to find out more about this incident. Thank you to the security personnel who are on-site to protect lives and ensure
the safety of our vaccine supply. This highlights the vital role they play in keeping us all safe. Diolch.”

On Thursday last week Wrexham council leader Mark Pritchard said teams had worked to ensure the vaccine was not lost in the floods.
The Welsh Government said there had been “no adverse effects” on the coronavirus vaccine roll-out.

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New Quay and Aberystwyth RNLI lifeboats tasked to grounded fishing vessel

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Yesterday before sunrise (Monday 25 January) New Quay and Aberystwyth RNLI lifeboats were requested by HM Coastguard to assist a fishing vessel that had run aground south of Aberystwyth at Morfa Bychan. As the day went on the RNLI volunteer crews found themselves at sea for many hours in freezing temperatures. 

The pagers first sounded early on Monday morning with the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat from New Quay and the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat from Aberystwyth both launching on service at 6am into the darkness to a report of a fishing vessel aground.

Aberystwyth RNLI lifeboat arrived first and found the casualty vessel, a 40 tonne, 12m whelk fishing vessel which had run aground on the beach at Morfa Bychan. Aberystwyth lifeboat initially attempted to veer down but to no avail.

New Quay RNLI Coxswain, Daniel Potter said, “We made good speed up to Aberystwyth in slight to moderate sea conditions but freezing temperatures. Arriving on scene we worked with Aberystwyth lifeboat and assessed that everyone was safe on board. It was so cold that Aberystwyth lifeboat had to return to station for a crew change.

“By now the tide had dropped and there was no water around the vessel. It was therefore decided the crew would be evacuated onto land and we would return to station.”

Both lifeboats returned to station by 10am, with the Coastguard unit on the ground keeping an eye on the fishing vessel.

In the afternoon both New Quay RNLI’s all-weather and inshore lifeboats were tasked to return to the scene as the tide was beginning to turn and the vessel’s owners were onboard to attempt to refloat the vessel. New Quay RNLI lifeboats were launched shortly after 2pm with Aberystwyth RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launching at 3.30pm to assist.

Mr Potter continued, “Returning on scene we had to assess how we could ensure the safety of those onboard and prevent the vessel being pushed further up the beach by the waves. This was made more difficult by the shallow water and large boulders. However, the inshore lifeboat was able to access the shallow water to assess the situation and pass our towline to the casualty.

“After setting up the tow we held the vessel steady until she started to float at high water. With excellent team work between Aberystwyth’s and our inshore lifeboat we were able to extract the stricken vessel and tow her into deeper water. We then escorted the vessel into Aberystwyth in case of any damage to her hull or steering.”

Simon Rigby New Quay RNLI helm added, “It was the longest and coldest shout I’ve ever done on the inshore lifeboat, seven hours at sea and 32 miles covered.”

With the casualty vessel safely berthed in Aberystwyth marina, both lifeboats returned to station and the crew were stood down at 9:30pm, over 15 hours after the first launch.

Roger Couch, Lifeboat Operations Manager added, “This was a great example of excellent teamwork and seamanship, putting many hours of training to good use. We would like to thank our colleagues at Aberystwyth for their hard work in freezing conditions and their assistance in providing expert local knowledge.

“Over the last three days our all-weather lifeboat, The Frank and Lena of Stourbridge has been very busy, being launched on service three times. The volunteer crews have worked hard with strict Covid restrictions and guidelines. Remember we are on call 24/7 so if you see anyone in trouble on the coast please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

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Retail premises now required to take extra measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus

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New requirements have now come into force that require retail premises to take additional steps to protect workers and customers from coronavirus.

The additional measures were already guidance, but are now legal requirements. This includes businesses selling food or drink for consumption off the premises. These legal requirements include the need to:

  • Ensure systems are in place for controlling entry to the premises and to limit the number of customers in store at any one time;
  • Provide hand sanitisation products or hand washing facilities for the use of customers when they enter and exit the premises;
  • Introduce measures to sanitise any baskets, trolleys or similar containers provided for use by customers on the premises;
  • Remind customers to maintain a distance of 2 metres between each other and to wear a face covering by:

o   Displaying signs and other visual aids throughout the premises;

o   Making announcements on a regular basis;

  • Undertake and record a specific assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus at the premises and in doing so consult persons working on the premises or representatives of those persons (where a business employs five or more people);

All premises are still required to take all other reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus, such as:

  • Changing the layout of premises including the location of furniture and workstations;
  • Controlling use of entrances, passageways, stairs and lifts;
  • Controlling use of shared facilities such as toilets and kitchens;
  • Otherwise controlling the use of, or access to, any other part of the premises;
  • Installing barriers or screens;
  • Providing or requiring use of personal protective equipment

The Regulations and guidance may be found at Coronavirus legislation and guidance on the law on the Welsh Government website: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-legislation-and-guidance-law and also guidance to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus in workplaces and premises open to the public: https://gov.wales/taking-all-reasonable-measures-minimise-risk-exposure-coronavirus-workplaces-and-premises-open

 

Useful posters and guides are available from Business Wales website: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/tool-kit. A COVID-19 risk assessment template is available from Health and Safety Executive – What to include in your COVID-19 risk assessment: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/assets/docs/risk-assessment.pdf

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