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“Next steps towards a future with fewer covid rules” – Mark Drakeford

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WALES will move fully into alert level one from 17 July. The changes were paused four weeks ago because of the emergence and spread of the delta variant across the UK and to enable more people to be vaccinated in Wales.

And there will be further changes to the rules outdoors as Wales takes the first careful step towards a new alert level zero.

Alert level zero is set out in an updated Coronavirus Control Plan, which is published today. If the public health situation allows, Wales will move to this level on 7 August.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“We are entering a new phase of the pandemic. Cases of the virus have risen sharply since the delta variant emerged six weeks ago but, thanks to our fantastic vaccination programme, we are not seeing these translate into large numbers of people falling seriously ill or needing hospital treatment.

“We can be reasonably confident that vaccination has weakened the link between infections and serious illness. But there is still a risk that this third wave of the pandemic could cause real harm – either direct harm from the virus or indirect harm from for example people having to isolate

“We can move to alert level one for indoor spaces from 17 July and go further for outdoor spaces because we know the risk of transmission outdoors is lower.

“We are also publishing plans for a new alert level zero, which will have fewer legal restrictions but which will still need all of us to take steps to protect ourselves.”

From 17 July, Wales will move fully to alert level one, including:

  • Up to six people can meet indoors in private homes and holiday accommodation.  
  • Organised indoor events can take place for up to 1,000 seated and up to 200 standing.
  • Ice rinks can reopen.

Wales will also take the first step into alert level zero as the limits on the numbers of people who can meet in public places or at events will be removed.  Outdoor premises and events will also have greater flexibility around physical distancing.

Also from 17 July other changes include:

  • New rules for children’s residential activity centres so children in groups of up to 30 can visit.
  • A specific requirement for employees to provide comprehensive information on the risks and mitigations identified in the COVID risk assessment  with their employees.

If Wales moves to alert level zero on 7 August, all premises would be able to open and most – but not all – restrictions will be removed and replaced with the ongoing requirement for all organisations and businesses to carry out Covid risk assessments. These will determine what reasonable measures are needed to be put in place to keep workers and customers and visitors safe.

There will also be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet others indoors, including in private homes.

Face coverings will continue to be required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport at alert level zero from 7 August, with the exception of hospitality settings.

The First Minister said:

“The pandemic is not over and the virus continues to spread across Wales, which makes it really important for everyone to say yes to vaccination and to do everything we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

“Even though vaccines have weakened the link between the virus and hospitalisation, we are seeing young, fit people suffer from long-Covid, which, for some, has a major impact on their lives.

“We have the headroom to continue to gradually remove restrictions, but each and every one of us has a really important part to play to keep Wales safe as we head into the summer.

The First Minister has also confirmed that people who have been fully vaccinated in the UK will no longer need to self-isolate if they are returning from an amber list country, in line with the position in England and Scotland.

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Mobile COVID-19 vaccination van to visit Ammanford

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD is pleased to confirm that its mobile vaccination van, in partnership with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, will be located in Ammanford from Wednesday 28 to Saturday 31 July.

The mobile vaccination clinic will be based at Ammanford’s Tesco Superstore car park (Park Street, SA18 2LR) and will be open between 11.00am and 7.00pm.  There is no need to contact the health board to book an appointment. 

The vaccination van will deliver the vaccine to anyone aged 18 and over that requires either a first or second dose (Moderna and Oxford AstraZeneca).  Second doses can be given 8 weeks after the first dose. 

The fire service is providing one of its vehicles and members of the team will also be in attendance to provide the public with general community safety advice, including about home safety.

With the rise in cases across the UK, it is important as many people as possible to come forward for their first and second doses as soon as possible.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We are thrilled that we are able to bring our mobile vaccination van to Ammanford for four days.

“Over 2,000 vaccines have been delivered from the van to date and we hope many more people in Ammanford and the surrounding area will choose to have their vaccine with us during our time at Tesco car park.

“Everyone is welcome, if you have changed your mind having already declined a vaccine we will be happy to see you or if you would like to speak to someone before deciding whether to have it, our brilliant vaccination team will be more than happy to speak to you and answer any questions you may have.”

Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Chris Davies said: “I am pleased that we can, again, assist Hywel Dda in its vaccination programme, having recently concluded a hugely successful partnership where we were able to assist with transportation of people within our communities to and from mass vaccination centres. 

“This opportunity and partnership allows us to expand our assistance further within the health arena, and is going to make a positive impact on our response to this global pandemic and we are pleased to be able play our part and collaborate with our NHS partners to change the lives of many people.” 

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Swansea.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody. They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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New children’s play area in Bryn as part of new council housing development

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A NEW children’s play area has opened in time for the summer holidays in Bryn, Llanelli as part of a new £5.9million council housing development.

Carmarthenshire County Council is building 32 new homes on land close to the Dylan housing estate in Bryn.

The scheme will be made up of 22 two-bedroom homes, four two-bedroom bungalows and six four-bedroom homes and is part of the council’s ongoing drive to deliver more affordable homes across the county. It has been part funded through the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Grant.

The development also includes a new children’s play area, funded by the council in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, which will take over the running and maintenance of the play area on completion.

Executive Board Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans said: “I am delighted the park has been completed in time for the summer holidays for the local children to enjoy.

“We are committed to delivering more affordable housing across Carmarthenshire and this development will benefit dozens of families in Llanelli, as well as proving much needed facilities for the local community.

“I would like to thank the rural council for collaborating with this us on this and I hope the children are thrilled with it.”

Before designing the play area, the rural council liaised with local schoolchildren to find out what play equipment they wanted at their new park.

Llanelli Rural Council Chairman Cllr Tegwen Devichand said: “The council is delighted to be working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council to provide this wonderful new play area for the community.

“The opening of the play area couldn’t have been better timed to coincide with the school holidays. I hope the local children will enjoy the range of challenging play equipment on offer and that they have lots of fun using it over the summer.”

The housing development is due to be completed by the beginning of 2022.

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