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Lockdown at midnight as new strain of coronavirus grips Wales

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ALL of Wales will be placed under lockdown from midnight with festive plans cancelled for all but Christmas Day.

First Minister Mark Drakeford made the announcement after urgent talks with ministers over a new strain of coronavirus, The Herald can confirm.

From December 23 to to December 28 rules had been due to be relaxed to allow people to celebrate the holidays with loved-ones.

But now this is limited to just Christmas Day.

Announcing the strict measures Mr Drakeford said: “While we all want to avoid further disruption to businesses and plans for Christmas, our overriding duty is to protect lives here in Wales, we know that 2021 will be a different and a better year. Our economy will recover. Christmas will come again.”

The changes mean that a Wales-wide lockdown, which was due to come into effect from 28 December, has been brought forward and will begin at midnight tonight.

All of Wales will be placed into the highest level of lockdown – Level 4 – with all but essential shops closed, and people being told to “stay home” to save lives.

Gyms, beauty salons, bars and pubs, and non-essential shops will have to close at the end of trading today, with people only being able to travel for “essential reasons”.

Commenting on the new restrictions announced tonight, Paul Davies MS, Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has said:

“Having been briefed by the First Minister today, I can fully appreciate the need for more severe restrictions in Wales, especially where infection rates are high, and the new strain of the virus is circulating.

“I know that many people will be disappointed as they were looking forward to seeing their loved ones this Christmas, but in the face of the emerging evidence it is clear that Christmas bubble arrangements must change.

“By working together and keeping to the rules we can ensure as many people as possible will be around to celebrate Christmas together in the years to come.”

<strong>First Minister statement – 19 December</strong>

Today, I met the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Michael Gove, from the UK Government, to discuss the very latest information on a new strain of coronavirus.

We now know that this new strain is significantly more infectious and spreads more quickly than the original one.

Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister this afternoon setting out the pattern of transmission in London and the South East of England, which has been linked to this new variant of coronavirus.

This is remarkably consistent with the rapid acceleration of transmission in Wales and the high rates of cases we have seen in recent weeks.

The latest evidence suggests this new strain is present throughout Wales.

Throughout the public health emergency, we have had to respond quickly to the rapid changes, which have been so typical of coronavirus.

Today has been one of those days when new information has required an immediate response.

This afternoon, the Cabinet met to discuss this worrying new development in the pandemic and to hear the latest advice from our senior medical and scientific advisers, including the impact on our NHS.

The situation is incredibly serious. I cannot overstate this.

We have therefore reached the difficult decision to bring forward the alert level four restrictions for Wales, in line with the action being taken in London and the South East of England.

These new restrictions will come into effect from midnight tonight instead of during the Christmas period.

This will mean non-essential retail, close contact services, gyms and leisure centres and hospitality will close at the end of trading today.

Stay-at-home restrictions will also come into effect from midnight.

Unfortunately, we must also look again at the arrangements for Christmas – we cannot expose people to the risk of this new, more virulent strain of coronavirus.

We will therefore change the current rules, which allow two households to come together to form a Christmas bubble over a five-day period, so that they will apply on Christmas Day only.

Throughout the alert level four period, a single person household will be able to join with one other household.

While we all want to avoid further disruption to businesses and plans for Christmas, our overriding duty is to protect lives here in Wales.

We know that 2021 will be a different and a better year.

Our economy will recover.

Christmas will come again.

But lives which are lost, are lost for ever.

This new strain of the virus is another dreadful surprise in this long-running pandemic.

We now have a pandemic within a pandemic, a crisis within a crisis.

It is another challenge we must overcome. But one we will overcome together.

We will continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and, together, we will keep Wales safe.

Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi gyd.

 

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Ammanford suffer narrow loss against Newport

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AMMANFORD suffered their third successive defeat at home to second placed Newport by the narrowest of margins, just three runs separating the sides in a 500 run thriller at the Park.

Newport won the toss and elected to take first knock. Their innings was defined by a 148 run middle order partnership between Imran Hassan (112no) and Mujahid Ilyas (57).

Ammanford were looking down the barrel of another 300+ target until the return of Saihaj Jaspal (3-26) and Dan Roberts (1-32) to the attack slowed down the run rate. Owen Davies and Josef Davies also picked up a wicket each as Newport closed on a hefty 259 for 6.

Ammanford’s response began perfectly with a 131 run opening partnership between Kurtis Marsh (78) and Andrew Salter (44).

Dan Roberts continued the good work but four wickets fell in quick succession before the arrival of skipper Alun Evans at the crease.

The match was well within Ammanford’s grasp had these two managed to stay together but the departure of Roberts (39) left the burden firmly on Evans’s experienced shoulders.

An unbeaten 43 from the captain wasn’t quite sufficient and Ammanford fell an agonising three runs short of their target on 256 for 8.

Ammanford have now lost against the top three clubs in Premier 1, but in each case have shown an
eagerness to challenge and the talent to support that eagerness.

The rest of the summer beckons encouragingly, beginning with a visit to Port Talbot Town next Saturday, May 28.

Ammanford seconds earn six wicket win

AMMANFORD seconds returned from Stradey Park with a straightforward 6 wicket victory over Llanelli.

Having put Llanelli in to bat, the Ammanford bowlers made short work of dismissing the Llanelli batters for 100 in 27 overs.

Sara Phillips (22) provided Llanelli’s main resistance. Chief wicket taker for Ammanford was Matthew Davies with 4 for 37, whilst Fin Jeffries, Sam Potter and Iwan Matthews picked up a couple each.

Ammanford overtook the Llanelli total within 23 overs for the loss of four wickets, thanks in the main to opener Eirian Morgan (25), with support from Fraser Benjamin (17) and Tiaan Evans (16no).

Player of the match was undoubtedly Llanelli’s Sara Phillips who crowned a fine all-round performance
with figures of 3 for 29.

Thirds suffer heavy defeat

AMMANFORD thirds suffered a heavy 135 run defeat at the hands of visiting Dyffryn at the Rec.

Dyffryn scored a formidable 245 from their 40 overs, due to fine knocks from Phil Paisey (95) and Rhodri Morgan (47).

Toby Davies took 3 wickets for Ammanford, whilst Jac Davies and Dafydd Evans picked up a couple
each.

Ammanford’s reply never really got off the ground, and they collapsed to 110 all out in 27 overs, thanks to impressive bowling from Lloyd Jones with 7 for 22. Opener David Lumb top scored with 20.

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JON COURTENAY: Live in Carmarthen

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The funniest show with a piano

Jon Courtenay’s 2021 UK Tour “WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT” which is coming to The Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen on Monday 1st November.

“WONDERFUL…YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO HAS WORKED HARD FOR YEARS AND NEEDS A BREAK AND I’M SURE YOU WILL GET A HUGE REACTION FROM THIS, I PROMISE YOU.” Simon Cowell

Following his enormous success as the first Golden Buzzer act ever to win Britain’s Got Talent, Jon Courtenay is delighted to announce that he will be setting out on his debut tour of the UK in 2021.

“ONE OF THE BEST GOLDEN BUZZERS WE’VE EVER HAD ON THE SHOW.” Amanda Holden

Long before triumphing in the 2020 final, Jon was a powerhouse live performer with decades of experience touring the world. Become part of Jon’s journey of a lifetime where you will roar with laughter, maybe shed a few tears and definitely be inspired by his music and the hilarious tales of his family, relationships and life on tour. With a soundtrack including all his Britain’s Got Talent songs and music spanning the classics to rock n roll, Jon’s side-splitting show will leave you with a happy heart and a huge smile on your face.

This will definitely be a rip-roaring night of music and comedy that you’ll never forget!

“IT’S FUNNY, IT’S TOUCHING, IT’S UNIQUE TO YOU…THAT WAS UNBELIEVABLE.” David Walliams

Jon Courtenay originally hails from Ipswich but now lives in Mossley, Greater Manchester with his wife Emmah and two sons Nathan and Alfie. He started his stage career as a comedy magician but gradually the magic made way for the piano. Even before he won Britain’s Got Talent, Jon was already a powerhouse live performer with decades of experience touring the world. He is also one of the rare British performers to be asked time and time again to perform in America. His originality and remarkable stage presence have led to hugely successful shows in the corporate market as well as on all the major luxury cruise lines.

Although Jon’s show is continually evolving, his sense of humour remains the same and he has now created a truly original experience for every audience.

“MAGICAL…YOU NAILED IT MY FRIEND. YOU TICKED EVERY SINGLE BOX.” Alesha Dixon

For more information go to theatrausirgar.co.uk or call 0345 226 3510

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Motorbikers urged to stay safe by Carmarthenshire County Council

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MOTORBIKERS are being reminded to ride safely as part of a new campaign by Carmarthenshire County Council’s road safety team.

Yellow ‘Ride Safely’ signs have been installed at key locations around the county that are widely used by bikers, reminding them to take extra care.

They can be seen on routes including the A4069 Llandovery to Llangadog, the A484 Pwll to Burry Port, the B4304 at Penclacwydd, Llanelli, and the A4066 Laugharne to Pendine.

As well as a reminder about safety, the signs also display a grid reference sticker to help emergency services pinpoint an exact location in the event of a collision.

Everyone using our roads should do so responsibly, say police (Image: File)

Carmarthenshire County Council’s road safety team organises several road safety initiatives including free motorcycle training courses with Dragon Rider Cymru  and Biker Down Cymru.

Their latest initiative is in response to figures that show the high prevalence of motorcycle casualties on Wales’ roads – particularly in rural areas of Wales.

Between 2017 and 2019 there were 1,755 motorcyclist casualties across Wales with 743 killed or seriously injured.

Cllr Hazel Evans, Executive Board Member for environment, said: “Everyone using our roads should do so responsibly, with respect for the environment, weather conditions and other road users. We know that some stretches of roads are particularly popular with bikers, so we’ve targeted these areas with new signage as a reminder to remember their safety. Every casualty is one too many – we all need to stay safe on our roads.”

For more information and availability on road safety courses, visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/roadsafety

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