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Removing Plan B rules ‘a headline to distract from Boris failings’ says Drakeford

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FIRST MINISTER Mark Drakeford has said the decision to end “Plan B” restrictions in England next week is not part of a “careful, long-term plan” but it’s a “headline to distract people’s attention from the Prime Minister’s failings.”

Wales will complete the move to alert level zero on 28 January First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed unless the public health situation changes for the worse.

He said the phased plan to gradually relax the alert level two measures and move back to alert level zero will continue.

The Welsh Conservatives have called for the immediate removal of the vaccine passport scheme, restrictions on businesses such as the rule of six in pubs,  ditch all social distancing and the removal of mandatory face masks in schools.

Critics have questioned the Welsh Government policy to ease restrictions at a slower pace than England.

Boris Johnson announced earlier this week that England’s Plan B measures are to end from next Thursday, with mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports both dropped.

But that announcement came as the Prime Minister faced mounting pressure to resign amid allegations of parties held at Number 10 during lockdown.

Mark Drakeford said the move in England to ditch those restrictions was not part of a carefully thought-out plan, speaking to BBC Radio Wales he said:

“I don’t think anybody watching objectively at what has happened in England could imagine that their decisions have been made by careful attention to public health advice and with some sort of long-term plan in place.”

“Their announcements this week are entirely due to the astonishing mess that they find themselves in and an effort to find some other headline to distract people’s attention from the Prime Minister’s failings.”

Mr Drakeford said: “Here in Wales we’re in a very different position, we’ve got a government that is capable of making decisions in line with the advice, to do things in the way we’ve done throughout the pandemic, step by step following the science, making sure that we are keeping people in Wales safe.”

Speaking to Sky News this morning, Mark Drakeford said it was “very hard to see how the Prime Minister survives.”

“Even if he were to survive, he will just limp on because he’s never going to escape the damage that this week has done to his reputation.”

“From my point of view, the thing that worries me the most is the fact that the UK Government is frozen by the impact of what has happened to them.” He said.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN WALES?

Welsh Government have said the latest public health data “suggests Wales has passed the peak of the omicron wave and coronavirus cases are falling back to levels similar to those seen earlier in the autumn” adding “There have also been reductions in the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital”.

From Friday 21st January, Wales will move to alert level zero for all outdoor activities.

This means:

  • Crowds will be able to return to outdoor sporting events.
  • There will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities and events.
  • Outdoor hospitality will be able to operate without the additional measures required introduced in December, such as the rule of six and 2m social distancing
  • The Covid Pass will continue to be required for entry to larger outdoor events attended by more than 4,000 people, if unseated, or 10,000 people when seated.
  • The Covid Pass is required in all cinemas, theatres and concert halls which are currently open.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The latest figures show we have passed the omicron peak and we can continue to lift the alert level two protections as part of our careful and phased plan.

“We will lift the limits on the number of people who can gather for outdoor events. We remain cautiously confident the public health situation is heading in the right direction and next week we will be able to complete the move to alert level zero unless the situation changes for the worse.

“We are in this position thanks to the efforts of everyone in Wales and our fantastic vaccination programme. It is important that everyone continues to follow the rules and the guidance to help keep themselves and their loved ones safe, including taking up the offer of a booster vaccine if they haven’t already done so.”

On Friday 28th January, Wales will complete the move to alert level zero.

This means:

  • Nightclubs will re-open.
  • Businesses, employers, and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
  • The general requirement of 2m social distancing in all premises open to the public and workplaces will be removed.
  • The rule of six will no longer apply to gatherings in regulated premises, such as hospitality, cinemas, and theatres.
  • Licensed premises will no longer need to only provide table service and collect contact details.
  • Working from home will remain part of advice from the Welsh Government but it will no longer be a legal requirement.
  • The Covid Pass will continue to be required to enter larger indoor events, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, and concert halls.

The self-isolation rules for everyone who tests positive for Covid and the face-covering rules, which apply in most public indoor places will remain in force after 28th January. The next three-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 10th February, when the Welsh Government will review all the measures at alert level zero.

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Driver jailed for head-on crash that caused life-changing injuries

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A DRIVER who caused a head-on collision with a car being driven by a pregnant woman told police officers at the scene he had drunk 13 cans of strong lager the night before.

Rhodri Rees, aged 36, of Llandysul, admitted his drinking had gone into the early hours before he got behind the wheel and caused the crash on the A476 in Llannon, near Llanelli, by overtaking another car on a bend at around 7.40am on December 11, 2020.

The severe impact meant both drivers were trapped in their cars and had to be cut free by firefighters.

Thankfully the baby was unharmed in the collision, however, its mother suffered serious, life-changing injuries. She had a number of operations to repair the damage and was unable to walk for a year and still suffers the effects of the accident today.

Dyfed-Powys Police Sgt Nicholas Brookes said “When Rees was spoken to by our officers at the scene he told them he had drunk 13 cans of Stella Artois and that he had gone to bed after midnight.

“He failed a breath test at the scene and was arrested on suspicion of drink driving before being allowed to go to hospital for treatment.”

The following day he was interviewed at Carmarthen Police Station where he told officers he had consumed eight or nine cans of Foster’s before going to bed around 2am, before getting up at around 6.45am and setting off.

A sample of blood was taken just before 1pm on December 11 showed Rees had 39mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – the legal limit being 80.  A blood alcohol expert had calculated that at the time of the collision the level of alcohol would have been no less than 113mg and more likely 129mg.

PS Brookes added: “This was a serious case that could have been so much worse.

“Rees admitted drinking a considerable amount of alcohol and getting little sleep before getting behind the wheel. He was lucky no-one was killed.

“I would like to commend the officer in the case, PC Benjamin Stevenson, who conducted a thorough and meticulous investigation for the offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.”

On Tuesday, 17th May, Rees appeared before Swansea Crown Court, having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, and was sentenced to 18-months in prison.

He was also disqualified from driving for three years and 9 months, with a requirement for an extended test to regain his licence.

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No monkeypox cases identified in Wales say public health officials

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THE UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 11 additional cases of monkeypox in England.

The latest cases bring the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed since May 6 to 20.

The new cases come on top of the nine already identified in the country.

There are currently no cases of monkeypox identified in Wales, public health in Wales have said.

Public Health Wales said it is working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Scotland, and Northern Ireland HSC Health Protection Agency to respond to UK cases of monkeypox.

Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are working closely with our UK partners to monitor and respond to cases of monkeypox in the UK. Monkeypox is a rare disease that has been reported mainly in central and West African countries. No cases have so far been identified in Wales.”

“Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness, and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.”

The first case in the current outbreak was confirmed on May 6.

It is not the first time monkeypox has been reported in the UK.

Three cases were also reported in 2021, two of them in Wales.

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New city of Wrexham gets big thumbs up from business leaders

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BUSINESS leaders have given a big thumbs up to news that Wrexham has been granted city status following a competition to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Wrexham Business Professionals have campaigned for more than a decade to help secure city status and say they are “cock-a-hoop” that the bid was successful, having previously failed last time around in 2012.

According to the group, made up of successful businesses and highly skilled professionals working together to promote regional prosperity and the enterprise and expertise in the region, becoming a city is a “fantastic once-in-a-generation” opportunity.

Wrexham joins seven other winners from across Britain and the overseas territories – including Bangor in Northern Ireland, Stanley in the Falklands, and Colchester in England.

Pictured Ian Edwards, of Allington Hughes Solicitors,

The competition for city status has taken place in each of the last three jubilee years, with previous winners including Newport, which became a city in 2002.

Ian Edwards, a senior member of Wrexham Business Professionals and a director of Allington Hughes, said: “We have supported the idea of Wrexham becoming a city for many years. As far as we are concerned, this is a no-brainer and is one of the best things to have happened to Wrexham for a long time

“Even before the pandemic and the consequences of the pandemic we’ve always thought that being a city would give Wrexham a lot of kudos and would provide a massive economic benefit for the whole of North Wales.

“During the pandemic some business in Wrexham have done well but others – notably in leisure, tourism and hospitality – have really suffered and we really have to get back on our feet economically.

“It’s not just about putting Wrexham on the map – being a city will provide an effective lever in attracting inward investment and new jobs which will help the whole area thrive and prosper.

“The benefits of city status transform the fortunes of the town and provide a better future for the people who live here.

“It feels like the stars have now aligned perfectly and that the time is now right to do our best to seize this opportunity.

“The fact that Wrexham AFC has been bought by Hollywood A-listers Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney helped add bit of magic and stardust to the bid.

“A lot of people across the world hadn’t heard of Wrexham before and now other Hollywood stars are embracing the story and putting on the club’s shirt.

“We’ve never had such a high profile – not just nationally but internationally.

“You really couldn’t script it better. There’s never going to be a better time to become Wales’s seventh city.”

It was a sentiment echoed by the group’s chair, chartered accountant Gill Kreft, co-owner of the Pendine Park care organisation.

She said: “City status will give Wrexham a huge fillip and provide the recognition it deserves as the commercial capital of North Wales.

“City status will undoubtedly help attract more inward investment and funding into the town and the surrounding area.

“It will also give us an enhanced reputation and status as well and raise awareness of what a great place this is and what a lot it has to offer. Wrexham has a lot going for it.

“It will be a massive boost for us and for North Wales and give the town more confidence about itself.

“Hopefully, we can now go for a hat-trick with Wrexham AFC finally winning promotion and being crowned as City of Culture 2025. Fingers crossed!”

Captions

Gill Kreft, chair of Wrexham Business Professionals

Ian Edwards., leading member of Wrexham Business Professionals

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