Coronavirus & Welsh Government: Community Support, Business Support, PPE & Local Government

(Title Image: Welsh Government)

Here’s a summary of some of the written statements issued by the Welsh Government on the coronavirus pandemic, some of which were issued instead of oral statements in the Senedd chamber.

First Minister launches “Looking Out for Each Other” Campaign

The First Minister has launched a campaign aimed at advising communities and neighbourhoods through the pandemic.

A special website has been set up with tips on self-isolating, additional advice for those in high-risk groups and advice for those who want to help others.

The First Minister said: “We know this is an incredibly worrying time for everyone, especially those who have a higher risk of developing a serious illness if exposed to the virus. We are doing everything possible to keep Wales safe, but also these (high-risk) groups safe during the outbreak. The public’s support in this effort is vital.”

Further action to protect high-risk groups

Around 70,000 people in Wales have been identified as being in a “high-risk” group who will need to take actions above and beyond that expected of most households.

The “high-risk” group includes the over-70s, those with certain long-term health condition and those with immunosuppression (i.e. from cancer treatment or certain types of drugs). This group will be expected to remain at home completely for at least 12 weeks.

Anyone within the “high-risk” group will be contacted by letter – which are currently being sent out and will include advice on how ongoing medical treatment will be provided as well as other issues such as food supplies and personal care.

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) said: “If you receive a letter, it is really important you follow the guidance to stay safe and well. Don’t leave your home, or invite anyone into your home, unless it is absolutely vital. The public’s support in this effort is crucial. It’s really important everyone follows the guidance about staying at home and social distancing, even if they are normally fit and well and don’t feel at risk.”

Further details on PPE provision on the frontlines

In addition to new guidance issued by the Welsh Government last week, the Health Minister has provided additional information on the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health and social care workers.

  • Existing stock of PPE “must be used efficiently” until new supplies are sourced.
  • PPE is generally reserved for those in direct contact with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 patients and those who’ve been given infection control training. Voluntary organisations who will be/ are helping in the NHS or social care should contact the NHS or local authority to source PPE.
  • A hotline and emergency contact number and e-mail for the Welsh Emergency Coordination Centre (“Welsh COBRA”) will be set up to use if supplies of PPE are disrupted or there’s a sudden surge in use.

Upper limit on emergency business rate relief introduced

The Welsh Government have set an upper rateable value limit for businesses seeking assistance under the emergency business rate relief scheme.

“….the Welsh Government has decided to make one adjustment to the Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) Relief for the hospitality, retail and leisure sector announced last week: to not extend the 100% relief to the small proportion of properties with a rateable value of £500,000 and above.

This will affect fewer than 200 properties across Wales but will release more than £100 million to kick-start the economic crisis fund. We will be writing to all of the businesses affected and making clear that we will consider discretionary support if there is a compelling economic case to do so.”

Firefighters could support NHS during the pandemic; household waste restrictions can be relaxed

Fire & Rescue Services have suspended all non-essential awareness and engagement work and could be asked to aid the NHS once firefighters unions have been assured that their health and wellbeing would be protected.

Also, town and community councils have been asked “to make use of their local intelligence and networks” – particularly in identifying possible vulnerable groups or individuals.

Certain restrictions “which make perfect sense in normal times” are set to be relaxed – which raises the prospect of changes to waste collections. Councils will also be able to undertake meetings remotely.

An initial £30million of emergency funding will be made available to councils – which includes £7million to maintain continuity of free school meals and £10million to protect rough-sleepers by housing them temporarily in B&Bs, student accommodation and hotels.

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