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From today, it is no longer law to wear a face mask in shops or on public transport in Wales

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FROM TODAY, Monday, March 28, it will no longer be the law to wear a face mask in shops or on public transport in Wales.

Self-isolation after a positive coronavirus test will also no longer be legally required from today, however, it is still “strongly advised”.

It is also advised that anyone with symptoms self-isolates, but it is no longer a legal requirement.

Two key legal protections will remain in place as coronavirus cases have risen sharply in recent weeks, driven by the BA.2 sub-type of the omicron variant.

Face coverings will remain a legal requirement in health and social care settings and coronavirus risk assessments must continue to be carried out by businesses, with reasonable measures put in place considering those assessments.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We have seen an unwelcome rise in coronavirus cases across Wales, mirroring the position in most of the UK.

“We have carefully considered the very latest scientific and medical evidence and we need to keep some legal protections in place for a little while longer, to help keep Wales safe.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have taken a gradual and cautious approach as we have relaxed protections.

“We are firmly on the path towards leaving the emergency response to the pandemic behind us and learning to live with coronavirus safely.”

WALES’ CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER

Community transmission of COVID-19 continues to increase across Wales and the UK.

This is likely to be a result of three things, Wales’ Chief Medical Officer has said:  “A rise in the sub-variant of Omicron BA.2, waning population immunity, and the recent easing of NPI protections.”

Dr Frank Atherton said: “Hospitalisation rates are increasing but this is not currently translating into severe pressure on intensive care services or an increase in COVID-19 related deaths.”

He said: “The main risk at present arises from sustained pressure on health services as a consequence of increased numbers of hospitalised COVID-positive patients, increased length of stay, and increased staff absences.”

“We should remain vigilant in our surveillance efforts; indicators to watch closely include ITU admissions, the arrival of new variants of concern, system-wide health/social care pressures, and any increase in all-cause mortality. ”

Dr Atherton added: “As the BA.2 driven wave continues to progress across the UK nations we can anticipate further rises in community infection rates in the coming weeks. The direct impact of this resurgence is unpredictable.”

“The current uncertainty lends itself to a continuation of our cautious approach and the retention of some alert level zero protections for an additional period of time, will allow for further monitoring and assessment of the impact on the epidemiological picture.”

DEFENDING THE REMOVAL

Mark Drakeford defended the removal of the mask and self-isolation restrictions amid concerns that people with underlying health conditions will be put at a greater risk.

During a press conference on Friday, he said: “I have more letters from people anxious that protections are being lifted too quickly than I do from people who think we’re going too slowly in Wales.

“I absolutely understand that if you have an underlying health condition, if you’ve been operating your own life very carefully that you are anxious at the thought that you might be re-entering a world where other people no longer take coronavirus seriously.

“It’s why I’ve been at such pains this morning to emphasise the fact that although we will be relying more in future on good advice and strong advice than we are on the law, doing the sensible thing still has to be part of the everyday repertoire of all of us

“We’ve learned all those things, haven’t we so carefully over the last two years, hand hygiene the keeping a respectful distance, wearing a mask.

“We’re going to have to find a way of living safely with coronavirus when we treat it like we do other conditions.

“If you catch the measles you don’t go to work with it, you don’t go out and about with it.

“There’s no law that tells you you’ve got to do that. It’s just that we understand that it would not be the right thing to do to be out there spreading a contagious disease to other people and the same needs to be true about coronavirus as well and

“it’s really important for those people that when they go out, they feel that they are re-entering society in Wales where people are still thinking about them, are still thinking not just what can I do for myself, but how can my actions help to keep other people safe as well.

“We’ve done I think, incredibly well to sustain that way of behaving over the last two years and we need to go on doing it that way.”

  • The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 14 April, when the remaining legal measures will be reviewed.
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Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened

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ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

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WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

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OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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