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Nathan Spackman

Nathan is the Operations Director at Bro Radio. You can hear him on air on Vale Breakfast weekday mornings from 7am or reading local news bulletins throughout the week.

Wales’s heritage sites have been closed since 18 March but today (04 July), Cadw has announced plans to welcome visitors back to selected unstaffed, outdoor monuments.

As of Monday, 06 July, members of the public will be able to safely visit some of Cadw’s 105 unstaffed heritage sites across Wales — including St Quentin’s Castle in Llanblethian, St Lythan’s Burial Chamber and Tinkinswood Burial Chamber in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Other unstaffed monuments in Cadw’s care will re-open later this summer — as soon as essential site maintenance, risk assessments and new site safety measures are completed and introduced, to ensure a safe and socially distanced visitor experience.

Cadw is encouraging visitors to keep Wales safe by avoiding extensive travel to these sites where possible — with visitors able to find out which unstaffed monuments are open in their local area via the Cadw website.

Furthermore, in line with Welsh Government guidance, visitors must adhere to social distancing at all times and are only permitted to meet up with one other household while on site. BBQs and the consumption of alcohol is also not permitted at any of the monuments.

Cadw will monitor the safety of each heritage site by inviting visitors to provide feedback via an online survey — available through QR codes on signage at each monument.

In line with guidance from Welsh Government, Cadw is also preparing to re-open most of its staffed castles, abbeys and historic houses later in the summer — which will see the introduction of new visitation guidelines and restricted visitor numbers via advanced online ticketing.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “Cadw’s unstaffed heritage sites range from magnificent castles built by Welsh Princes to historic chapels and even Neolithic tombs, some over 5,500 years old.

“We’re delighted to be able to start removing public access restrictions to selected unstaffed sites — particularly for the benefit of local communities who often use these spaces for wellbeing and exercise.

“However, public health and safety is our highest priority during this time, so, in order to keep our unstaffed sites open and safe for everyone, we politely ask that those who visit, do so respectfully and responsibly.

“And please remember, although Monday 06 July marks the re-opening of 43 unstaffed heritage sites in Wales, all of Cadw’s other monuments will remain closed to the public for the time-being.”

To find out which unstaffed Cadw sites have re-opened in your local area, visit https://cadw.gov.wales/unstaffed-heritage-sites-a-gradual-reopening, search Cadw on Facebook or follow @CadwWales or @CadwCymru on Twitter.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed that the requirement to stay local will be lifted from Monday 6 July.

At Fridays daily press conference the First Minister confirmed the conditions in Wales allow the requirement to stay local to be removed from Monday.

Despite the relaxation, the Welsh Government is reminding everyone about the importance of social distancing, good hand hygiene and the need to respect the places and communities they visit.

Those planning to visit areas are being advised to check local information about the place they want to visit, going somewhere else if a place is already busy or car parks are full, making sure litter is not left behind, and showing respect for local residents.

Changes are also being made to the coronavirus regulations to allow families to be reunited from Monday as the concept of extended households is introduced. This will enable people in two separate households to join together to form one exclusive extended household.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“The number of coronavirus cases is declining, thanks to the efforts we have all taken together to reduce the spread of the virus. This means we can continue to make changes to the coronavirus regulations.

“From Monday, we will lift the requirement to stay local and introduce new changes to the rules to enable people from two separate households to join together to form one extended household.

“These changes will be welcomed by many as they represent a further easing of the lockdown – but this doesn’t mean that coronavirus has gone away. We all still have a responsibility to keep on doing all the things, which make a real difference to the spread of the virus.

“This means maintaining social distancing, thinking carefully about where we go and why, so together we continue to do all that we can to help to keep Wales safe.”

Under the new arrangements, from Monday 6 July:

  • The legal requirement to stay local (and the associated guidance about the five-mile rule of thumb) no longer applies.
  • There will be no limitation on travel but holiday accommodation in Wales will not be allowed to be open – self-contained accommodation is preparing to re-open from 11 July.  
  • People from two separate households will be able to join together to form one exclusive, extended household. But they can only be part of one extended household.
  • Everyone joining the extended household must belong to the two households, which form the extended household.
  • The extended household must contain the same individuals for the foreseeable future.
  • If one member of an extended household develops symptoms of coronavirus, the entire extended household should self-isolate, not just those living together.
  • We advise those in an extended household to keep records to help with contact tracing in case someone in the extended households tests positive for coronavirus.

The changes follow the regular statutory review of the coronavirus regulations by Welsh Ministers, using the latest scientific and medical evidence from the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Cell (TAC) and the advice from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales.

At the next review on 9 July, the Welsh Government will consider a range of specific options for re-opening the hospitality sector (bars and restaurants) outdoors from 13 July, self-contained holiday accommodation from 11 July and hairdressing by appointment.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council has taken action to prevent mass gatherings at Coastal Resorts and Car Parks following recent incidents of antisocial behaviour and mass gatherings at Ogmore-by-Sea and Barry Island.

In recent weeks he Vale of Glamorgan Council has taken steps in coastal areas over recent weeks to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and protect the public from the spread of the virus. However, the easing of lockdown has seen a significant increase in visitors to the Vale of Glamorgan’s coastal locations.  

The car park at Rivermouth, Ogmore-by-Sea, was closed last Thursday night and will remain closed until Monday 6 July 2020, whilst the Council takes steps to mitigate further issues.  

A meeting with residents and the local community council was held on Tuesday 30 June to explain the steps the Council would be taking, in the short term, to deal with issues caused by antisocial behaviour such as littering, camping, inappropriate parking, overnight stays and noise.   

  • Temporary road closures will remain in place with access for residents only on Seaview Drive.  
  • Parking will be controlled on the main road through Ogmore-by-Sea (B4524)
  • The Council has been working to ensure Police as well as Council Staff are present this coming weekend to deal with any potential issues. 
  • Further measures to control the consumption of alcohol in these destinations are also being organised where joint Police and Council Enforcement Officers will seize alcohol that is being carried and consumed in breach of existing regulations.
     

The Council is also seeking longer term solutions to better manage resort car parking at Ogmore-by-Sea, Barry Island, Cosmeston and Penarth Esplanade and the Council will engage with local communities in managing car parking in these locations.  

Displacement parking in residential areas surrounding these destinations will also be addressed with provision for resident parking and short-stay spaces. This work will be progressed with close engagement with residents.

The Council will, in the coming weeks, be consulting residents, landowners, Vale Councillors and Community Councils to ensure that all concerns are addressed.  

Speaking about the plans, the Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cllr Neil Moore, said:  

“We need to ensure that our coastal resorts and tourist destinations remain attractive and are equipped to offer a quality visitor experience, without having a detrimental impact on residents and communities.

“Our car parking infrastructure is being modernised and I have allocated money in this year’s budget to provide better parking management of surrounding residential areas where it is needed. We are seeking to address these issues as quickly as possible, given the significant increase in visitors to the Vale coast.

“Tourism plays a vital role in the Vale of Glamorgan’s economy and the Council is committed to supporting and further developing the local tourist and visitor experience whilst at the same time minimising impact on our residents who live and work in our coastal towns and villages.” 

South Wales Police’s Chief Inspector for the Vale of Glamorgan, Anthony Williams, has also been meeting with local residents to provide reassurance about the work being undertaken by the force and its partners.

CI Williams said: “We appreciate the Coronavirus lockdown measures have been difficult for our communities, but the kind of behaviour seen recently at Ogmore-by-Sea and other coastal areas is simply unacceptable.

“Mass gatherings are still prohibited under Welsh Government legislation, and I’d remind those considering attending our beauty spots to consider the risks they could be posing to themselves and their loved ones if they are not complying with legislation and guidance.

“Antisocial behaviour will not be tolerated at any time – regardless of whether we are in the midst of a pandemic or not – and we will continue to work closely with partners, including the local authority, to ensure those wanting to enjoy our beaches and parks within the confines of the law can do so safely and without fear or intimidation.

“Our communities can expect to see an increased police presence in some areas, and officers will make use of powers available to them, including dispersal orders, confiscation powers and enforcement action.

“We can’t be everywhere all of the time, however, and I would also appeal to people to take some personal responsibility and to be considerate of others. Parents should also be ensuring they know where their children are and what they are doing.”

The First Minister will today confirm that conditions will allow the Welsh Government to lift the requirement to stay local and to introduce changes to the regulations to enable families to be reunited once again.

In his press conference at 12:30pm today (Friday), the First Minister is expected to say that, while some restrictions are being eased in Wales, everyone needs to continue to maintain social distancing and respect the places and communities they visit.

People are currently required to stay within five miles of their home as a guide.

From 6th July, people from two separate households will be able to join together to form one exclusive extended household.

From Monday, they can meet indoors and stay overnight, in a similar fashion to other "support bubble" arrangements elsewhere in the UK.

It follows the Welsh Government's announcement on Thursday, that restaurants and pubs can open outdoors from 13 July.

Venues will be able to open in spaces they own and have licences for - as long as Covid-19 cases continue to fall.

Commenting on the news reports that the five-mile rule will be lifted on Monday, Darren Millar MS – the Shadow Covid Recovery Minister – said:

“I welcome news that the Welsh Labour-led Government's arbitrary and cruel five-mile rule is finally being scrapped in Wales but I urge the First Minister to bring this forward to today to avoid another lost weekend for those wanting to see their loved ones. 

“This Labour-led administration is currently fixated with introducing changes to its coronavirus restrictions on Mondays, but in doing so opportunities for contact, business income, and travel are being lost for yet another weekend.

“Ministers listened to our calls on winding back the date for the reopening of tourism in Wales, they must now listen to our calls to bring this change forward too.”

After a four month break, Barry Town United are set to return to training this evening as they begin preparation for the Europa League.

In a post on their social media on Wednesday (1st), the club said:

"It's been 4 months apart but the squad return to training tomorrow evening following approval from the authorities."

"It will be a new normal for us in a clinical and controlled environment but Europa League prep is underway"

The club confirmed that significant protocols were in place to allow the clubs a return to training under strict medical guidelines, to protect its staff and players. Without these protocols, the four clubs would not have been granted an exemption to resume training.

On 19th May the FAW confirmed the end of Domestic League Season.

The announcement confirmed Gavin Chesterfields side have finished fourth in the JD Cymru Premier, securing a Europe League Qualifying spot and taking the nominated spot for the Welsh Cup, which has been abandoned.

In a club statement at the time, Barry Town United said "The safety of players and fans has always been our first concern, and we support the decision to bring the 2019-20 season to a close at this time."

"With this season formally over, we will start our preparation for the new season in the hope that we will be able to defeat the virus, and play competitive football once it is safe to do so."

The Welsh Government has announced that bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants will be able to begin re-opening outdoors in Wales from July 13th, if cases of coronavirus continue to fall.

The Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language Eluned Morgan will set out the phased re-opening plan for bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants at the daily press conference on Thursday July 2.

It follows a rapid review of the hospitality sector in Wales to look at how the industry can safely be re-opened.

The first phase will see the re-opening of outdoor spaces owned by business and subject to existing licenses – this is if conditions continue to be favourable and subject to the outcome of next week’s review of the regulations.

The re-opening of indoor services will be considered later, depending on the success of outdoor opening; the ongoing coronavirus situation in Wales and other measures businesses put in place to reduce the risk of transmission, such as pre-booking, table service only, and even the use of apps.

The Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Councillor Neil Moore has released a statement on the financial pressures of Covid-19 on the local authority.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council is currently helping to administer a range of financial support to help residents and businesses cope with the challenging situation created by Covid-19.

Some of this will be reimbursed by Welsh Government, but it’s not yet known exactly to what degree and in the meantime the Council must cover costs itself.

It’s quite devastating in some respects, but we are luckier than other councils in that we still have some reserves and some balances.  It’s ironic in some ways as when we were setting the budget for this financial year, some of our Members wanted to use them and reduce the Council Tax levels.  If we had done that, we would not have the buffer we have now.

It’s fortuitous that at that time I resisted, because I didn’t want to be in a position where we would not have finances available to respond to an emergency, like the flooding we saw in Rhondda Cynon Taff.

I didn’t know that the Coronavirus was going to hit us, but clearly it is having an effect. For example, we’re not collecting business rates because we’ve given lots of businesses a payment holiday and we’ve also issued a considerable number of grants to businesses.

In total, we have paid out more than £24 million in grants to businesses, which we will get back from Welsh Government, but there’s no guarantee that all businesses will survive this.  We’ve also granted some rent relief for businesses who operate in Council-owned premises for the first three months of this year, but who knows how long this pandemic will last? Whilst Welsh Government has been able to provide some additional funding to local authorities, they have not got a bottomless pit of money either.

We’re also paying out grants to charities and amateur sports clubs.

Covid-19 is also having an effect on the Council Tax Relief Scheme.  The Government currently provides money to help people on low incomes claim a discount. The level of funding was set prior to this pandemic and the call on this funding is already increasing. Again, this may not be sustainable and we may have to fund it ourselves.

Applications for that fund have gone up immensely since the Covid-19 situation. The Welsh Local Government Association believe there could be a spending increase of around £11 million across Wales.  For us that would equate to around £400,000.

Basically, at the moment, we can code spending against the pandemic and make claims to Welsh Government, as is every other Local Authority in Wales.  But I emphasise, there’s no guarantee that it is going to go on forever.

The virus has also seen internal costs increase in certain areas.  We needed to upgrade our IT facilities and expenditure on waste and recycling is also rising.

We’ve had to increase our investment in IT because a considerable number of staff are now working from home.

Originally, we thought we were going to get all of that back, but now we’ve been told we’re only going to get 50 per cent.  That’s an expense we didn’t anticipate and it’s an expense we will have to absorb.

The other added expenditure is due to people being out of work or furloughed.  We have seen increases in applications for Universal Credit and that’s going to have an impact on us in terms of the ability to collect Rents and Council Tax.  Exactly what that impact will be is unclear.

“Despite that, we are continuing to run services, as far as possible and we have seen a massive increase in areas such as recycling and waste.

The other area of increased spending is in Social Services, which normally spends around 25 per cent of our budget.  That is going to go up dramatically because people are getting frailer and succumbing to Covid-19 and we are also supporting people in care homes and providing PPE for our staff and the care homes.

Overall the virus is having a massive impact on the Council and the Community. The exact extent of this impact is very difficult to estimate, but we will continue to support the community until it is defeated.

However, I would make it clear that everyone has a responsibility in keeping themselves and others safe until this Pandemic is over. We do not know when that happen, but it certainly will not be in the short-term.  My message is simply until then, take care of yourself, do not put others at risk and stop the increase of the R number in our community.

Dental and optometry practices across Wales are gradually reintroducing a broader range of services as part of the phased recovery of health services from the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike in England, many dental practices in Wales have remained open during the pandemic to provide emergency care. Over 16,500 patients have been seen in-practice by dentists in Wales since mid-March, with a further 180,000 patients being assessed remotely by phone or video.

87 of Wales’ 400 optometry practices have also kept their doors open during the pandemic, providing urgent and essential eye care to over 19,000 patients through in-practice and remote consultations.

Optometry and dental practices have been able to increase service provision from 22nd June, reintroducing additional procedures for those patients most in need. Further services will be gradually reinstated. Those who have experienced serious problems during the lockdown period, and those with urgent care needs, will be prioritised as practices work towards returning to normal service.

Patients should not expect business as usual however as it is likely to be some time before the full range of services – including those dental procedures that generate aerosols that can spread the virus – will be reintroduced. Due to the need for social distancing and infection control, practices will also operate well below previous capacity during this phase.

Exact provision will vary by practice and patients will be contacted when routine appointments can resume. Due to the anticipated significant demand on the system, patients are asked not to contact their practice for routine appointments at this time.

Welsh Government will continue to work with health boards and NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership to ensure practices can access appropriate levels of Personal Protective Equipment.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Restoring services is a complex process. We have kept the situation under review throughout the pandemic and ensured continued access to emergency care for those who have needed it. Now that the level of coronavirus in our communities is stabilising, we can restart some non-urgent services in a cautious and phased way.

We are working closely with the relevant professional bodies and are confident that Wales’ dentists and optometrists will continue to follow strict measures, including social distancing, to protect staff and patients. While we are not yet back to business as usual, we would urge those requiring treatment to ensure that they access it to prevent longer-term concerns.”

Optometrist Annette Dobbs runs a practice in Barry: “We have put in place a comprehensive training programme so our staff are prepared for the new way of working. We have PPE supplies, Perspex screens in our reception areas and social distancing markers on the floor. We’ll be operating an appointment-only system for now, ensuring we can maintain the right degree of infection control between patients. We are really looking forward to seeing more of our patients return to the practice.”

Dentist Jeremy Williams of Rosehill Dental Practice in Conwy said: “We have remained open throughout the pandemic, providing urgent care to over 400 patients. Now we’re starting to contact other patients to establish what their care needs are. That will enable us to prioritise initial treatment for those who most need it. We understand some patients may feel a little anxious about starting to access services again. We want to reassure them that we have put in place a range of measures within the practice so they can feel comfortable returning to us for treatment.”

Anyone requiring urgent dental treatment or assessment should call NHS 111.

The Welsh Government is extending measures to protect businesses affected by coronavirus from eviction during the summer, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates, has announced.

The extension to the moratorium on commercial lease forfeitures comes as non-essential retail businesses began reopening in Wales last week. Although rent due should be paid whenever possible, this measure will ensure no business is forced out of its premises if it misses a payment in the next three months.

The measure was due to expire on June 30, but has now been extended to September 30, and will help support the economic recovery across Wales. It will prevent unreasonable evictions, help protect jobs and safeguard businesses which were trading before the pandemic.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates, said: “This extension will be crucial in giving businesses the certainty they need to reopen and provide goods and services that their customers need. This will in turn reduce the risk of firms having to close and people becoming unemployed.

“We have put important measures in place to  help protect the Welsh economy from the devastating impact of coronavirus by providing the most generous business support package in the UK. We continue to work hard to respond to the needs of business at this incredibly testing time and plot our pathway to a prosperous post-pandemic Wales.”

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said: “It has never been more important to keep our towns and high streets vibrant. Ensuring Welsh businesses can open safely and without fear from eviction following this difficult time will be vital as we reopen our highstreets and town centres.

“Giving our towns a sense of place is more important than ever, and as lockdown measures are eased, it is essential that we work collaboratively with partners to build sustainable town centres for the future where businesses can thrive. These extended measures will enhance the package of support for high streets and business; which includes supporting Business Improvements Districts with their running costs as our towns start to recover.”

The UK Government has published a Code of Practice to promote good practice for landlords and tenants as they deal with challenges associated with coronavirus. The Code of Practice can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-practice-for-the-commercial-property-sector

The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, today announced that VAWDASV (violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence) services in Wales are set to receive an additional £1.5m in revenue to help them respond to increased demands on services as a result of Covid-19.

The new funding is in addition to the existing £5.25m announced in this year’s budget, and will aim to help VAWDASV service providers to cope with an expected spike in demand once lockdown measures are lifted.

Welsh Government will work with VAWDASV partners and specialist providers to allocate funding on a needs-led basis, and in the simplest and quickest way possible. The following areas will be prioritised for support:

  • Helping VAWDASV service providers to prepare for and meet additional demand for support as lockdown measures are eased, including taking precautions against the spread of Covid-19
  • Support for children and young people suffering domestic abuse
  • Staff training to provide cover for members of staff who are shielding, and to meet increased staffing needs due to demand
  • Services to support behavioural change in perpetrators of abuse
  • Additional resources to reduce backlogs and free up capacity for those needing urgent support

The Minister also launched the next phase of the ‘Home shouldn’t be a place of fear’ campaign to support victims and survivors of domestic abuse through lockdown and beyond.

Around 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 6 men, experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives. It is impossible to measure the scale of abuse taking place during lockdown, but there is strong evidence to suggest it’s on the rise.

Visits to the Live Fear Free website have increased by 144% in the last month and there were 1,683 homepage visits made in April compared with 690 in March.

There is a definite link between life pressures – for example economic hardship, fears about employment, and the frustration arising from current lockdown restrictions – and abuse, though there is never an excuse.

During lockdown, calls to domestic abuse helplines have changed significantly, becoming more complex, and more lengthy (now nearly twice the 3.18 minute pre-Covid-19 average). Services are beginning to hear from victims who tell them that once lockdown is over they intend to leave their abusers.

Jane Hutt said:

“I’m delighted to announce this new funding, which will help those who have been suffering control, manipulation, harassment, physical and sexual abuse as well as violence, and who badly need support.

“We know that domestic abuse has been made much worse by being stuck at home with your abuser during lockdown. As lockdown measures ease, I hope that it will become easier and safer for victims and survivors to access the support they need

“Home shouldn’t be a place of fear. If you’re experiencing control at home, or are concerned about someone, I want you to know that you are not alone. Help is available from the Live Fear Free helpline, 24 hours a day.”

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