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Coronavirus

Councils link up with South Wales Police to help hospitality businesses tackle COVID-19

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South Wales Police have joined forces with Swansea and Neath Port Talbot Council’s to help hospitality and other businesses slow the spread of Covid-19

As communities across the city begin the countdown to Christmas, the council’s public health and licensing teams have set up Joint Enforcement Teams (JETs) with local police officers to support businesses to do their bit.

Since the start of the pandemic officers from both organisations have been working hard to offer advice and support to businesses and to take enforcement action where necessary.

JETs will be out and about across the city this weekend to support pubs and restaurants to do the right thing for the Wales v England rugby game on Saturday.

Chief Superintendent Andy Valentine, who is leading the South Wales Police response to Covid-19, said: “Throughout this pandemic we have adopted a policing style of explaining the rules, encouraging people to comply with them and only using enforcement as a last resort.

“That will continue and although we have been given additional powers by Welsh Government and the establishment of Joint Enforcement Teams we will continue to ensure that our approach to enforcement is sensible.”

Swansea Central Police Station (Image: Jaggery / Geograph)

Cllr Rob Jones, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council and WLGA spokesperson for Community Safety said: “We welcome the formation of the Joint Enforcement Teams and are confident this additional resource will further strengthen the partnership work which has been critical in responding to the pandemic.

“In Neath Port Talbot we are already seeing the benefits on the ground, with visits by the JET team this past weekend resulting in two improvement notices issued to venues that were not in compliance.

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“To slow the spread of the virus it is vital that those who are flouting the rules do not undermine the efforts of the majority of people and businesses, who are making every effort to keep our communities safe.”

Ambassador and Presidents Bar, Neath (Image: Google Maps)

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said establishing JETs is a significant step which will help businesses, the council and the police to take further action to slow the spread of the virus.

He said: “We cannot lose sight of the fact the virus is still with us and we all need to play our part in slowing its spread. I want to thank South Wales Police for increasing their policing presence to support actions designed to keep our communities safe.
“Since the launch of the JETs earlier this month the partnership has made a real difference in our work with businesses to improve public safety by, engagement, education and ultimately enforcement where required.”

“This innovative approach to joint working could be a template for further collaboration in the future.”

Police Officer patrolling Swansea Marina (Image: South Wales Police)

Phil Roberts, Chief Executive of Swansea Council, said: “While the council has always worked closely with South Wales Police on issues of joint concern, the JETs initiative takes co-operation to a new level that can only benefit our communities.

“Our joint message to businesses and customers alike is that we want people to enjoy their time out, but enjoy it safely. Businesses need to abide by the regulations and their customers need to listen and act on the guidance they are given.

“JET teams are there to encourage people to do their bit. But they will also take enforcement action to issue improvement orders, fixed penalty notices or close premises down if that’s what is needed.

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“These are hard times and we’ve all been asked to change our behaviour and do the right thing to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. It’s sometimes difficult, we understand that. But we can get through this together if we all do our bit.”


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Coronavirus

Face coverings retained in health and social care settings

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First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will remain in place.

Speaking after the latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations, the First Minister said the public health situation was improving following the recent spike in cases caused by the BA.2 sub-type of omicron.

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But Covid case rates remain high so maintaining the use of face coverings in health and care settings will help to protect to some of the most vulnerable people in society, staff and visitors.

The First Minister also urged everyone to continue to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus by following a set of simple steps to protect one another and keep Wales safe.

These include self-isolating if ill or testing positive for Covid-19; wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places, meeting outdoors wherever possible; keeping indoor areas well ventilated and washing hands regularly.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The pandemic isn’t over but we are seeing encouraging signs the recent high levels of infections across Wales are falling.

“There are steps we can all take to protect ourselves while coronavirus is still circulating and reduce the spread of the virus even further. This is particularly true in places where some of the most vulnerable people in society are being treated and live, which is why we will retain the legal requirement to wear face coverings in health and social care settings.

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“More generally, ensuring you are up-to-date with your Covid vaccinations and spring booster – if you are eligible – is really important. If you have Covid symptoms or test positive, please stay at home and help break the chain of transmission.

“Together, we can carry on keeping each other safe and keeping Wales safe.”

The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 26 May.

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Coronavirus

Schools’ Covid guidance aligned to businesses and other workplaces

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The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has announced that Covid-19 measures for schools in Wales will be brought into line with guidance for businesses and other organisations.

The Welsh Government has written to schools in Wales this morning to inform them of the changes.

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Since September last year, schools have applied measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus according to local circumstances, based on the Local Covid-19 infection control decision framework for schools. Schools will no longer be advised to use the framework.

The change is in line with the Welsh Government’s long-term Covid-19 transition from pandemic to endemic. The risk from coronavirus is now considered in the same context as other communicable diseases, such as flu.

The First Minister has announced that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be removed from 9 May, if the public health situation remained stable. The changes to the guidance for schools will also come into effect from 9 May.

Schools and other education settings will continue to be advised to work with local authorities and public health advisors to ensure that measures remain appropriate and proportionate and reflect local risks and circumstances.

A checklist will be provided to support schools and settings in considering which control measures remain proportionate. Special schools will continue to follow the advice for children and young people with higher clinical risk and clinically extremely vulnerable adults.

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Speaking at the Welsh Government’s weekly press briefing, Jeremy Miles said: “In line with the wider public health guidance published at the last three-week review, we have today written to headteachers to signpost the impending changes to our advice for schools, which reflect the move from pandemic to endemic. This will ensure school guidance is more closely aligned with the rest of society.

“We all know that Covid-19 has not gone way. It remains vitally important we reduce the spread of the virus where we can – this includes, for example, following self-isolation guidance, and for education settings to continue to undertake robust risk assessments.”

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Coronavirus

Health board extends shuttle bus between Llanelli and COVID vaccination centre

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Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) has extended the free shuttle bus service between Llanelli town centre and the mass vaccination centre in Dafen to help people access their COVID-19 vaccination as easily as possible.

The shuttle bus, provided by Dolen Teifi, will continue to run between 10.30am to 4.40pm, seven days a week – with no service at 12.00pm from town or at 12.15pm from the mass vaccination centre to allow the drivers a lunch break.

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People can board the shuttle bus on the hour and at half-past the hour at Church Street, outside Llanelli Magistrates Court.

The shuttle bus will leave the mass vaccination centre quarter past and quarter to the hour, returning to the town centre and dropping passengers off opposite Llanelli library.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We need as many people as possible attending their COVID-19 vaccine appointments, or dropping in if eligible.

“This shuttle bus service is one of many additional resources and services being put in place across the Hywel Dda region to help support more people to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. I am pleased the shuttle bus service has been extended to help people reliant on public transport to access their COVID-19 vaccine.”

On 21 February 2022, the JCVI published a statement, recommending an additional spring booster.

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Strict COVID-19 safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers on this service, including wearing face coverings unless medically exempt.

A maximum of 14 passengers are allowed per journey with a screen in place between driver and passengers.

The health board say that passengers should only use this service if they are fit and well on the day.

They add that before travelling without an appointment to Dafen mass vaccination centre, people should check the health board’s website for up-to-date information such as vaccine eligibility and drop-in opening times.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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