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Lack of clarity in government messaging could lead to low public compliance if restrictions are reintroduced, expert warns



As health leaders call on the UK Government to implement Covid-19 contingency plans, and the Welsh First Minister threatens stricter measures unless infection rates decline, a leading Covid-19 behavioural expert from Swansea University has warned that clear messaging from the UK and devolved governments will be essential to ensure high public compliance if additional measures are introduced. 

The warning from Dr Simon Williams, Senior Lecturer in People and Organisation at Swansea University, comes following the publication of a joint study by researchers at Swansea University and Manchester University which found that confusion over rules, a lack of trust in government, and feelings of helplessness or rebelliousness were some of the main reasons for rule-breaking during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“To help avert a winter crisis in the NHS, the government needs to take into consideration the reasons why some people might not be adhering to the rules or following guidance for reducing transmission, and that adherence may wane in some over the coming months, if additional measures are introduced”, said Dr Williams. 

The researchers conducted online focus groups with 51 adults from across the UK about their experiences of Covid-19, and found that:

  • The main cause of non-compliance was caused by confusion over rules that were changing frequently, as well as there being different rules in countries across the UK.
  • Frequent rule changes and government announcements led to alert fatigue – where many people feel they are unable to follow, understand or recall specific rules, due to the overload instructions and information.
  • A lack of trust in the government was found to be a significant factor for some.

The study, published by PLOS ONE, also found that as the pandemic draws on, some people are experiencing a learned helplessness, and feel like they have given up following Covid rules. Others may be increasingly resistant or rebellious about the rules, with some people concerned that sustained lockdown measures would increasingly bring about civil unrest.

Dr Williams, lead author of the study, said: “Our study found that more often than not, where people didn’t follow measures, it was because they felt like the rules were hard to understand because they had been changing so often over time, and across different places – for example in different countries in the UK. In these cases, people weren’t intentionally breaking rules, but were adapting or interpreting them as best they can.

“One of our key themes was alert fatigue. This is where people stop taking information in, or find it hard to recall important information, because of information overload. Many people are left feeling fed up or overwhelmed by the constant rule changes and announcements and it could be leading to unintentional rule breaking.”

Co-author Dr Dienes, a clinical and health psychologist, said: “A significant finding in our research was learned helplessness. This is a psychological state where people give up trying to achieve something because they come to feel powerless. Normally, this means giving up a certain health behaviour, like admitting defeat when trying to quit smoking or stick to a diet. In this case, learned helplessness happened for some people who gave up trying to follow rules they either couldn’t understand or felt weren’t working”.


The research was led by Dr Simon Williams, Senior Lecturer in People and Organisation at Swansea University, in collaboration with Dr Kimberly Dienes, Lecturer in Clinical and Health Psychology at Swansea University, Professor Christopher Armitage of Manchester University’s Centre for Health Psychology, and Dr Tova Tampe, an independent consultant. 

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Covid measure-avoiding cinema threatens to disobey latest closure notice – branding First Minister a ‘grinch’




The Welsh Government issued Swansea independent cinema and food outlet Cinema & Co with an order to close on public health grounds on Friday.

Swansea Council originally issued a closure notice for the business on Thursday 18 November saying the business had not completed a COVID risk assessment, staff had no training on how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and there was no implementation of the COVID pass scheme.

It was also noted that there was no signage advising customers to wear face coverings and there was inadequate cleaning products to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Business owner, Anna Redfern described the Welsh Government COVID pass law as “nonsensical” and “unnecessary”.  She also refused to comply with the council’s closure notice saying

The Council took Redfern to court to enforce the closure. Ms Redfern failed to attend court, while the judge asked for an adjournment to proceedings to query the act of law that the council was using to bring the closure notice.

Prior to the new court date, the Welsh Government has decided to act itself using enforcement parts of the Coronavirus legislation for the first time.

Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Welsh Minsters have powers to take action against specific premises where they consider the premises to present a risk to public health.


In a statement, the Welsh Government said: “To support Swansea Council and to protect public health, Welsh Ministers have issued a direction under the Act for the closure of Cinema & Co in Swansea.

“Recently the Local Authority identified a series of breaches of the Coronavirus Regulations at the premises.

“The premises was previously served with a notice requiring it to close due to the risk to public health.

“As the owner has chosen not to comply with this legal requirement, Welsh Ministers have taken further enforcement action.

“The Welsh Government will not be commenting further on ongoing legal proceedings.”


Council officers attended the cinema on Friday evening to close the Castle Street business once again, with the order prohibiting anyone from entering the building unless given approval from the court, the council or the Welsh Government.

There was a strong police presence to enforce the closure, although media reports indicate a small number of protestors remained inside the building, with some of those reportedly wearing Voice of Wales branded clothing.

The controversial organisation has been supportive of Ms Redfern’s anti-COVID pass stance, but while describing itself as a media organisation it has been dogged by allegations of being a far right, racist group – something that it strongly denies.

Ms Redfern herself also denies any link to racism or extremism, saying that her “life had become totally surreal” and that she was “being acted on by so many forces out of [her] control. Some very dark.”

In a statement on social media she said: “I absolutely reject any claims that I am in any way connected to far-right groups, far-left groups or any form of racism”


Following the most recent closure notice, signed by Welsh Government First Minister Mark Drakeford himself, Cinema & Co described the First Minister as a “grinch” and vowed to disobey the order, organising a showing of the film The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” at the cinema on Sunday 28 November at 4pm.

The sold-out event was promoted on Cinema and Co’s social media showing the face of Mark Drakeford photoshopped into the grinch, accompanied by further anti-COVID pass slogans.

It is unclear as to what, if any further action the Police, Council or Welsh Government will take should the cinema breach the latest closure notice and reopen as promised.

A crowd-funder set up by former Brexit Party & Abolish the Welsh Assembly candidate Richard Taylor, has raised over £60,000 so far.

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Community pharmacists boost the Covid booster vaccine campaign




The drive to deliver Covid booster vaccines across Swansea Bay as rapidly as possible has itself been boosted by community pharmacies.

All 49 GP practices in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot joined the health board to deliver the first two doses of the vaccine.

But as they are now busy delivering flu vaccines on top of their usual services, community pharmacies have stepped up to help ensure the booster is available locally as well as in the main vaccination centres.

Their involvement follows a successful pilot earlier this year which saw four of them help deliver the first two doses.

Thirteen in the Swansea area, along with Vale of Neath Pharmacy in Glynneath, have now responded to the health board’s call for expressions of interest to take part in the booster programme.

One of the first to receive their booster in a pharmacy was Nigel Godfrey (pictured above), who lives near the Vale of Neath Pharmacy.

“It was fantastic,” said Mr Godfrey. “I was working from home so I could pop down to the pharmacy on my lunch break.


“It was local, five minutes away. A lot more convenient than having to go to one of the mass vaccination centres.

“There was no waiting, I was in and out within five minutes.

“The pharmacist put me at ease and we went into a private room. There were no problems whatsoever.”

Mr Godfrey, aged 44, is entitled to the booster because of an underlying medical condition.

“But it will also protect my friends, family and colleagues, whoever I come into contact with,” he added.


“It’s doing the right thing, not just for myself, but also those around me and the community.”

People eligible for the booster will be contacted directly with an appointment either in one of the pharmacies or in a health board vaccination centre.

Appointments are being sent out in chronological order, at least six months after the date people received their second dose.

Six months is the threshold at which those in priority groups become eligible for the booster, not an absolute date it must be given by.

Although there are no drop-in sessions, the health board has started a reserve list for people who are aged 40 or over, who had their second dose at least six months ago.


They must also be available to attend one of the mass vaccination centres at short notice – within two hours.

As well as the MVCs, the health board employs local vaccination centres, converted shipping containers which can be taken into communities to save people who might otherwise struggle to get to an MVC.

With the pharmacies also on board, every effort is being made to ensure as many of those who are eligible for a booster can receive it as close to their home as possible.

“However, we appreciate that will not be the same for everyone,” said Swansea Bay’s Vaccine Equity Manager, Maxine Evans.

“We send invites to people living within a certain radius of the pharmacies to begin with and, if we have slots still available, we go further out.


“We are flexible and if people cannot get to the pharmacies because they live too far away and do not have transport, they can phone the booking office to change the appointment.

“But when we have been to the pharmacies and spoken to patients, they were really grateful and happy with the fact that it was local and easy for them to get the booster there.”

Pharmacists too say they are happy to be involved with the booster programme.

Niki Watts of Vale of Neath Pharmacy said: “We decided to take part because we believe it’s important to help the health board get the population fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“We are located at the heart of the community so the patients find it easy to access.


“We have good facilities, including a nice big car park right outside so the patients don’t have to walk very far, and our own dedicated consultation rooms where the vaccinations can take place in private.”

Eligibility for booster vaccines is determined nationally. It includes all adults aged 40 and over; frontline health and social care workers; people aged 16-49 with underlying health conditions putting them at higher risk of Covid-19; adult carers; and adult household contacts, aged 16 and over of anyone who is immunosuppressed.

Top of the eligibility list are people living in residential care homes for older adults. Swansea Bay has concluded its first sweep of 70 homes in the health board area – delivering more than 1,200 boosters to residents.

For various reasons, some were unable to receive the booster when the vaccinators were present, so return visits to each of the homes are now being arranged.

Georgina Assadi, health board Covid vaccine programme assistant service manager, said many of the vaccination team had not worked in the community before.


“It was all new to them and some were a little anxious to begin with. But they all really enjoyed it because they knew they were providing protection to the most vulnerable people,” she added.

Lead image: Nigel Godfrey is given his booster by Niki Watts of Vale of Neath Pharmacy (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Owner of Swansea independent cinema fails to attend court hearing on COVID closure




Cinema owner, Anna Redfern failed to show at a Swansea Magistrates hearing this morning.

The hearing was brought by Swansea Council after Redfern ignored a closure notice issued after Cinema & Co was found to have not completed a COVID risk assessment, staff had no training on how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and there was no implementation of the COVID pass scheme.

It was also noted that there was no signage advising customers to wear face coverings and there was inadequate cleaning products to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Despite the closure notice being issued on Thursday 19 November, Redfern reopened the business the following day and has continued to trade.

Barrister Lee Reynolds, prosecuting on behalf of the council said in court that Redfern “seems to think this pandemic doesn’t exist”.

Anna Redfern, who was not in court has previously described the Welsh Government’s COVID pass regulations as “discriminatory and unlawful”.

Redfern declined to comment further while legal proceedings were underway.


District judge Neale Thomas, who was hearing the case at Swansea Magistrates Court queried why the council was bringing the closure notice under the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 and not the Welsh government’s coronavirus legislation. He asked for written submissions from the local authority on the matter and adjourned the hearing to November 30.

The council’s barrister, Mr Reynolds described the Coronavirus Act as “very limited” and said bringing the closure notice this way was necessary. He urged the shortest possible adjournment siting concern over “the state of the premises”, and Ms Redfern “making various assertions in the press and posting comments online which are inflammatory and highly controversial”.

In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for Swansea Council said: “We are disappointed that the owner has ignored the advice provided and has reopened the business in breach of the closure notice.

“In cases where we have issued improvement notices or requested businesses close temporarily so they can improve their Covid-related measures, almost all have worked with the council to address concerns raised and ensure businesses are safe for their customers and their own staff.

“We still hope we can work with Cinema & Co to address the issues raised and help them reopen as soon as possible.”


The council must now make written representations to the court ahead of a hearing on November 30.

In the meantime, Cinema & Co on Swansea’s Castle Street remains open.

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