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Drakeford outlines road to normality

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PUBS and restaurants can reopen outdoors on April 26, the Welsh government has said.

Outdoor attractions can also open from that date.

The changes will come into force provided coronavirus cases remain low.

Non-essential retail and all other close contact services will also reopen on April 12, as well as travel between Wales and the rest of the UK.

The announcements come before a planned review from First Minister Mark Drakeford on Thursday (Apr 1), which is being held a day early because of the Easter weekend.

He is also expected to say that gyms can re-open sometime in May, alongside allowing up to 30 people to take part in outdoor sport.

Outdoor attractions are set to reopen April 26 and ministers could also allow gyms and leisure centres to open for individual training “by early May”, alongside organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people.

Both the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru said gyms should be allowed to reopen immediately.

Mr Drakeford will set out a “series of measures” to take Wales into Level 3 by 17 May, “subject to public health conditions remaining favourable”.

Pubs, bars and restaurants have been pleading with ministers to give them dates so they can prepare to reopen.

While parts of Wales’ lockdown have eased quicker than elsewhere in the UK, the Welsh government has been reluctant to set out a full list of when different sectors will reopen.

It has been critical of the London Government for aiming to end all rules on social contact by 21 June at the earliest – Mr Drakeford has said that was ‘very optimistic’.

Labour has broken promises to businesses: Andrew RT Davies

Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies said: “Welsh Conservatives believe gyms across Wales should be reopened for the good of people’s mental and physical well-being.

“Two months ago, Labour said it would be a priority when it came to easing restrictions, but it’s been another broken promise from ministers. This should be corrected.

“And given the progress we’ve made on case rates and vaccination, we also believe consideration should be afforded to the reopening of outdoor hospitality in Wales.

“Labour ministers have lifted travel restrictions, but it’s created other issues such as a lack of public toilets, littering and anti-social behaviour.

“Some of the scenes over recent days have been concerning and ministers should see licensed, regulated businesses as part of the solution, instead of the problem.

“Welsh Conservatives have provided a detailed roadmap for families, workers and businesses across Wales and Labour should listen to our calls and do the same.”

Adam Price: Labour must explain why they’ve taken so long to give businesses certainty

Plaid Cymru’s Leader, Adam Price MS, said: “The Labour Government must explain why it has taken them so long to provide businesses with greater certainty on when they can expect to reopen. Having been closed for so long, the least they deserve is more time to prepare.

“While this news offers hospitality a glimmer of hope, it will be a while yet before the sector can fully re-open. Labour has a duty to provide extra financial support to help those businesses to get back on their feet – increasing the pot of cash that’s available to businesses. 

“Time and again, hard-working Welsh businesses that form the backbone of our economy have been let down and left behind by this Labour government – the very least they can do is to dig deep and support key sectors of the Welsh economy.

“Meanwhile, gyms should be able to safely re-open now – not least to help with people’s wellbeing and mental health which has suffered so much during the last few months.”

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Ceredigion Museum to reopen with a new exhibition

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CEREDIGION Museum in Aberystwyth is to reopen its doors to the public on August 12 after being closed due to the pandemic.

It will reopen with Human Threads; a stunning exhibition of historic quilts, with the addition of two new quilts – one digital and one physical – made by Ceredigion residents to record their experiences of the pandemic. 

Staff say they are excited to be reopening with a wonderful exhibition, having missed visitors and access to the museum for more than a year.

The museum will initially be open from Thursday to Saturday each week, from 11am until 4pm. 

Research by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions shows that 75% of respondents want visitor attractions to retain Covid-19 safety measures, so the museum has put in place a booking system to limit the numbers of visitors at any one time. There will also be lots of opportunities to sanitise hands and visitors will be asked to social distance and wear masks for the foreseeable future.

Initially, visitors will only have access to the shop and the first floor of the museum. As key café staff were redeployed into new jobs to support schools and care homes and they are still needed in these vital roles, the café won’t be reopening for the time being.

The museum shop, however, will be open and full of lovely new products, many designed especially for the quilt exhibition.

The website will have full details of the exhibition. People will be able to book their visit from August 5 at www.ceredigionmuseum.wales

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Llandeilo going for Fair Trade Status

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A NEW steering group has formed in Llandeilo to achieve Fair Trade status for the town.

“Many of our local shops and venues already stock or serve Fair Trade products and I believe Llandeilo deserves to be officially recognised for this,” says co-founder town councillor Christoph Fischer.

“It’s fantastic to see so many businesses and stakeholders committed to Fair Trade in Llandeilo,” says Candace Browne of Y Pantri Glas, Llandeilo’s Zero Waste and Natural Foods store. “However, for me Fair Trade extends beyond insuring workers growing imported exotic produce like bananas and chocolate are treated fairly but also to trading fairly with our local producers and sourcing good food locally. As Chair of Slow Food Cymru, Slow Food Town status with a shared vision of “Good Fair Food for All” would also be great for businesses to work towards for our community.”

The group, which has representatives of several businesses and interested individuals, are currently mapping all products that local shops, schools, groups and organisations offer and are lobbying the town council and other bodies to get behind the movement by declaring their own commitment to Fair Trade.

“As town councillor and as individual I feel this initiative fits perfectly well with the trend in town for fair trade,” says Fischer. “As Member Pioneer for the Llandeilo Coop part of my role is to initiate projects like this and bring all parts of the community together. We already had positive replies from Café 139, The Lighthouse, Heavenly, Ikigai, CK’s, Crown Stores, Umami and Llandeilo Primary.”

If you and your organisation want to commit to Fair Trade or are stocking Fair Trade products, please contact ChristophFFischer@googlemail.com

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RNLI lifeguards and lifeboat crew to be awarded for brave Ceredigion rescue

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THREE RNLI lifeguards from Ceredigion have been recognised with a bravery award for saving the lives of a man and his 10-year-old son. 

With assistance from Cardigan and New Quay RNLI lifeboats, the lifeguards rescued the two kayakers who were caught in a strong offshore wind and being swept out to sea. 

For their brave actions during the rescue, the three lifeguards are to receive the prestigious Alison Saunders award, which is awarded each year to recognise the skill and bravery of lifeguards.

The pair of kayakers were rescued at Tresaith last September, having capsized 800m offshore in strong winds and bad sea conditions. Seasonal RNLI Supervisor Sam Bailey and RNLI Lifeguard Macsen Mather demonstrated remarkable courage and selflessness in entering the water, in the full knowledge that they would not be able to return to the shore unassisted, due to the wind and sea state. They were well aware they would be spending a prolonged period of time in the water in cold conditions.

Senior Lifeguard Lowri Davies remained ashore to co-ordinate the rescue with HM Coastguard, who requested that both New Quay all-weather lifeboat and Cardigan inshore RNLI lifeboat launch to support the lifeguards. Despite it being her first season as a senior lifeguard, Lowri executed her role with confidence and assurance, managing communications between lifeguards, lifeboats, and HM Coastguard, and offering reassurance to her colleagues in the water throughout the rescue. 

Having reached the kayakers, Sam and Macsen used their rescue boards to secure the casualties out of the water in order to keep them safe until the lifeboats arrived to recover the whole group.

By the time New Quay and Cardigan lifeboats arrived at Tresaith, the group had drifted over 1.5 miles out to sea. Cardigan RNLI volunteer crew transported the group to shore where the casualties received further medical attention from HM Coastguard for the effects of the cold. Both lifeboat crews will receive a letter from the RNLI’s Chairman for their part in the rescue. 

Roger Smith, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager says: “This rescue was a superb team effort, with RNLI lifeboat crews launching in direct support of their lifeguard colleagues. We are massively proud of our lifeguards, who showed great bravery and resolve during this rescue. They entered the water to save lives, in the full knowledge that they would be unable to return to shore unaided, trusting our lifeboats to back them up. The awards recognise their collective courage and professionalism. Working together, our team saved two people from drowning that day.”

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