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Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

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MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS

Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”

All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.

Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.

Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.

Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.

Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.

Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.

“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.

“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.

“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”

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Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be banned from serving alcohol from Friday

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PUBS, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be banned from serving alcohol from Friday and will be unable to open to customers beyond 18:00 HTS.

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the new rules to tackle a rise in coronavirus cases.

Cinemas, bowling alleys, bingo halls, museums and galleries will also need to shut from Friday.

Mr Drakeford said without changes there could be between 1,000 and

1,700 preventable deaths over the winter.

Businesses will be allowed to provide a takeaway service after 18:00 of food or non-alcoholic drinks.

First Minister Mark Drakeford made the announcement during the Welsh Government briefing at 12.15pm on Monday, November 30.

The new restrictions are modelled on Scotland’s Tier 3 restrictions – you can see more details of the announcement here and follow below for live updates from Mr Drakeford’s press conference.

Mr Drakeford said said the measures were based on advice from the UK’s Sage group of scientific advisors and would be reviewed on December 17.

“From 6pm on Friday, our national measures will be amended to introduce new restrictions for hospitality and indoor entertainment attractions,” he said.

“Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will have to close by 6pm and will not be allowed to serve alcohol. After 6pm they will only be able to provide takeaway services.

“From the same date, indoor entertainment venues, including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres, casinos, skating rinks and amusement arcades, must close.

“Indoor visitor attractions, such as museums, galleries and heritage sites will also have to close. Outdoor visitor attractions will remain open.”

At Friday’s Welsh Government press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford said that further restrictions on hospitality would be needed to ensure that there is enough headroom for Wales to relax coronavirus restrictions in time for Christmas.

He said the R number in Wales is now as high as 1.4 meaning the virus is spreading exponentially again.

He said that discussions were underway to finalise the details of the new arrangements and there would be a “major package of financial support”. He said more details would be announced on Monday.

He said: “The Cabinet has agreed to take further specific and targeted action to reinforce the current national measures we have place.

“We will focus these on places where we meet and where coronavirus thrives, drawing on the recent evidence from the UK Sage group of experts about what interventions have had the biggest impact on the virus.

” It has highlighted the positive impact of measures in the Scottish level three system and the English tier three restrictions.

” We are already doing many of these here in Wales. Any additional actions we will take will build on the Sage advice but will be bespoke to our unique circumstances.

“Cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will close.

“There will be new restrictions in the hospitality industry, which will come into effect next Friday.

“The sector has worked hard to put in place measures to protect the public and I know this will be a worrying time for all working in the industry.

“We will be working over the weekend with partners to finalise the details of the new arrangements and to put in place a further major package of financial support to respond to those changes.

“I will give further details about the package on Monday.

“Non-essential retail; hairdressers; gyms and leisure centres will continue to operate as now.

“These new arrangements will apply to the whole of Wales.”

Mr Drakeford said it was needed because there were very high rates in some parts of Wales.

He said: “All this is necessary because we need a further national effort to bring down rates in those parts of the country where they are high and to protect those areas from getting any worse, where cases are lower.

“A national approach can protect us all.”

He added: “We are particularly concerned about the increases we’re seeing in people under 25.
“Over the course of the pandemic, this is how the virus has spread – initially among younger age groups and then to older and more vulnerable groups.

Mr Drakeford said Wales would not be able to relax restrictions at Christmas unless he took action now.

He said: “Earlier this week, I met the First Ministers from Scotland and Northern Ireland and Michael Gove, from the UK Government, to discuss a common set of arrangements for Christmas.

“We agreed a five-day period between December 23 and 27 where travel restrictions would be lifted across the UK and up to three households would be able to form a Christmas bubble.

“Relaxing the restrictions will allow families to be together – maybe for the first time this year – for a few days over the festive period.

“But there is always a risk that when we come together we will spread or catch the virus.

“We therefore need to make sure have as much headroom as possible as we approach this Christmas period to enable us to relax these restrictions.

“This week we have seen restrictions tightened and extended in many countries across Europe.

“The UK Government has announced a strengthened tier regime, which comes into force in England from Wednesday. Northern Ireland today starts a new two-week lockdown and Scotland has extended the highest level restrictions.

“We too now have to use the coming weeks to reduce the spread of the virus and create more headroom for the Christmas period.”

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Jail after heroin worth £45,000 seized

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AN ABERYSTYWYTH woman has been jailed, and an organised crime gang disrupted, after heroin worth £45,000 was found at her home.

Dyfed-Powys Police found more than 400g of the class A drug during a warrant at Susan Marie Proffitt’s home – resulting in one of the force’s largest single seizures of heroin in Ceredigion.

The result has disrupted an active organised crime gang supplying class A drugs to the area.

Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This swift and thorough investigation involved officers and staff from departments across the division, who worked together to secure this result.

“The defendant had a huge amount of heroin at her home, with efforts taken to conceal bags of the drug around the property.

“There is no doubt that in taking Proffitt out of the supply chain we will have disrupted an organised crime gang which she was a trusted part of in supplying heroin into the division.”

Officers carried out a warrant at the 52-year-old’s home in South Road on August 30, 2020.

On searching the property, a box containing 408g of heroin was found concealed in a vent under the staircase, and two further wraps were found in a shower head bracket. Fingerprint marks matching those of Proffitt were found on these items.

Four mobile phones were also seized from the property.

Sgt Jones said: “The quantity of heroin recovered is far in excess of what he would expect to see someone who is simply a user to be in possession of for their own use.

“Given the value of the heroin recovered and the financial circumstances of the defendant, we were confident it was unlikely she would be able to fund a purchase of such a quantity of heroin without being involved in the supply of drugs.

“The only realistic reason for possessing this quantity of heroin was for supply onto others.”

Proffitt was charged with possession with intent to supply, and pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 57 months in prison when she appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday, November 26.

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New permanent walk-in test centre opens in Aberystwyth

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PEOPLE in Aberystwyth with symptoms of COVID-19 now have access to a permanent walk-in testing facility.

Hywel Dda University Health Board has arranged for a Local Testing Site (LTS) to be located inside the former Padarn Nursery building, (behind, but not connected to, Padarn Surgery), on Penglais Road.

Local people should avoid using the nearby nursery car park, leaving it free for those people accessing tests to park there. People who attend the walk-in centre must wear a face covering.

Meanwhile, the drive-through facility at Canolfan Rheidol has now been relocated to Cardigan in response to a rise in cases in that area. Residents of Aberystwyth will not be impacted by this move as there is plenty of testing capacity at the LTS.

Alison Shakeshaft, Director of Therapies & Health Science at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are very pleased to have secured this LTS for the people of Aberystwyth. Many residents in the town, including students, do not have their own private vehicle in order to access drive-through testing facilities, so the option of a walk-in facility is very important.

“This is a challenging time and I urge everyone to remain vigilant and follow the rules, including wearing face coverings where required, maintain social distancing, washing hands regularly, or using a hand sanitiser if hand washing is not possible.”

Anyone who has symptoms of the virus (a new persistent cough, high temperature or loss/change of taste or smell) must book a test as soon as possible.  This can be done through the online UK portal at www.gov.wales/coronavirus.

University students with COVID-19 symptoms, when booking a test, are required to provide their local address in Aberystwyth.

Please do not book a test if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and do not attend testing centres without booking first as you will not be seen without an appointment.

Please follow the latest self-isolation guidelines which can be found here.

For the latest news and updated from Hywel Dda University Health Board visit https://hduhb.nhs.wales/

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