Response to the coronavirus pandemic is developing on a daily basis, so here you’ll find the latest updates from Welsh Government. Because guidance and information may change over time it is important that you always follow the most recent guidance. If you don’t find the information you need, please get in touch with my office on 01443 406400.
Public Health Wales provides a daily update about the number of cases of coronavirus in Wales. It is available at: https://phw.nhs.wales/news/public-health-wales-statement-on-novel-coronavirus-outbreak/
Click here for Coronavirus Q&A.
UPDATE 31 March 2020
- Health Minister Vaughan Gething has confirmed that hundreds of health and social care professionals will soon return to their previous careers to help tackle coronavirus.
- Last week, people who left health and social care jobs within the last three years were asked to join a temporary register to fulfil a range of clinical and non-clinical roles across the sectors.
- Up to 3,760 students from across Wales (medical, nursing, midwifery, allied healthcare professionals, paramedic and healthcare scientists) could also be available to work, on an opt-in basis, and their roles will depend on what stage they’re at with their training.
- 416 nurses and midwives have opted-in over the first week.
- More than 20% of allied healthcare professionals and scientists have also registered their interest.
- Almost 700 doctors have automatically been re-registered by the GMC in Wales.
- 348 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have been included on the temporary register and are yet to opt-out.
- Social Care Wales also issued 850 letters to former registrants.
- ONS has today published new provisional data about the number of deaths from coronavirus in England and Wales.
- This information covers all deaths mentioning coronavirus in England and Wales and in all settings – not just hospitals (the figures on deaths published by Public Health Wales – and reproduced in this update – are in hospitals)
- ONS has included in the count every death registered in the relevant week for which coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate (whether as the underlying cause of death or not).
- It takes at least five days for most deaths to be certified by a doctor, registered and the data processed, so ONS figures are always slightly out of date.
- There were 108 death registrations involving COVID-19 up until 20 March 2020 – five in the week ending 13 March and 103 in week ending 20 March. During the week to March 20, there were provisionally two deaths involving COVID-19 registered in Welsh residents, out of a total of 719 deaths.
- There were 112 new cases of coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,563, although the true number of cases is likely to be higher.
- Seven further deaths have been reported bringing the number of deaths in Wales to 69.
- The Life Sciences Hub Wales is working with industry to help boost the supply of goods and develop solutions which address the immediate needs of NHS Wales. It wants to work with companies to supply and develop medical devices, infection control products, AI and apps and products to combat social isolation and loneliness. https://lshubwales.com/call-industry-collaboration-fight-coronavirus
UPDATE 30 March 2020
- The Welsh Government has reprioritised its budgets to create a £1.1bn fighting fund to ensure Wales and public services in Wales can respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
- First Minister Mark Drakeford has today announced a new £500m fund to provide extra support to the Welsh economy, businesses and charities experiencing a sharp drop in trading as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Economic Resilience Fund aims to plug the gaps in the support schemes already announced by the UK Government, including the Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which will guarantee 80% of people’s wages and income.
- The new Welsh fund will support firms of all sizes, including social enterprises, with a focus on those which have not already benefited from the coronavirus grants already announced by Welsh Government.
- The £500m fund is made up of two main elements:
- A new £100m Development Bank of Wales fund will be available for companies experiencing cash flow problems as a result of the pandemic and will provide loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 at favourable interest rates
- Businesses will also be able to benefit from a £400m emergency pot providing:
- Grants of £10,000 for micro-businesses employing up to nine people. This includes sole traders employing staff. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply by mid-April.
- Grants of up to £100,000 for small and medium sized firms with between 10 and 249 employees. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply from next week.
- Support for larger Welsh companies, which are of critical social or economic importance to Wales. This element will be open to qualifying businesses within the next two weeks.
- An updated Q&A about the various sources of support for businesses is attached to this email.
- Education Minister Kirsty Williams has written to higher education institutes in Wales about a range of issues from student finance and accommodation to overseas activity and support for staff https://gov.wales/letter-minister-education-kirsty-williams
- There are 210 new cases of coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,451, although the true number of cases is likely to be higher.
- 14 further deaths have been reported bringing the number of deaths in Wales to 62.
UPDATE 29 March 2020
- HEALTH: NHS staff will receive free travel on buses throughout Wales in return for hardship funding from the Welsh Government over the next three months, with free travel already available on Transport for Wales services, Transport Minister Ken Skates has announced.
- Transport for Wales will receive additional funding support and a coronavirus hardship fund has been set up to help bus companies as passenger numbers have fallen by up to 90% as passengers follow the stay-at-home rules in response to the pandemic.
- The combined support is worth up to £69m.https://gov.wales/nhs-staff-get-free-travel-part-69m-hardship-fund-deal-public-transport
- 148 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Wales, bringing the total number of cases to 1,241, although the true number of cases is likely to be higher.
- 10 more deaths have been reported in people who had tested positive for coronavirus, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 48.
- From Tuesday, a free weekly food box will be available to the 75,000 people who have been asked to take shielding measures, including staying at home for at least 12 weeks. Each free box will provide essential food for one person for a week, and will be delivered weekly. If more than one person in the household is shielding, they will also receive food. https://gov.wales/get-coronavirus-support-extremely-vulnerable-person
- TOURISM: Guidance for people running holiday accommodation has been published by the Welsh Government. It covers hotel, guest and self-catering accommodation.https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2020-03/coronavirus-guidance-for-holiday-accommodation-businesses.pdf
UPDATE 28 March 2020
- PPE: A four-nation rapid review of the current guidance about the use of personal protective equipment is being carried out. It will also examine issues with supply in parts of the UK.
- 3.4m items of PPE had been issued from Wales’ pandemic flu stock – in addition to the normal supplies.
- Wales’ chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton said: “The guidance is clear PPE should be used when dealing with people who have or are suspected to have COVID-19. The current guidelines about what PPE is needed differs by setting and procedure. It is essential those who need PPE have access to it but we should not use it unnecessarily in order to avoid wastage and to ensure we have sufficient stocks as the coronavirus pandemic progresses.
- “For many critical workers, including staff in some healthcare settings – those who are not dealing directly with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 – standard good practice, which includes thorough hand washing and social distancing will protect people from the spread of the virus.
- “The health and wellbeing of our health and social care staff is our prime concern. It is vital they are protected and that they feel confident when working.”
- Attached to this email is a Q&A about PPE.
- TESTING: Health Minister Vaughan Gething has today announced plans to introduce a smart test to identify if people have had coronavirus in Wales – helping them get back to work.
- The new antibody blood test, which will be tested in the UK next week, will show if people have already had the virus and potentially if they have immunity.
- A new testing plan for Wales is being introduced, which will see a wider range of suppliers providing coronavirus testing kits to Wales, to ensure testing capacity can be increased.
- From next week, there will be capacity for 1,100 tests a day in Wales. By mid-April, up to 5,000 antigen tests (these are the tests which tell you if you have coronavirus or not) a day will be provided to people admitted to hospitals with suspected coronavirus, frontline NHS staff and people who are classed as extremely vulnerable. And a further 4,000 tests a day will be available to roll out antigen testing throughout Wales as part of a four-nation deal for the UK involving Thermo Fisher Scientific, Amazon, Boots, Royal Mail and Randox, which was announced by the UK Government yesterday.
- This is in addition to the roll out of the antibody test.
- HEALTH: Four further deaths have been reported, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 38.
- 172 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,093, although the true number of cases is likely to be higher.
- Wales has been testing people in hospital with suspected coronavirus and frontline NHS staff for a while – see more here:https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2020-03/coronavirus-covid19-key-changes-to-testing-criteria.pdf
- EDUCATION: Education Minister Kirsty Williams has called on school staff to do what they can to keep schools open for NHS staff and carers during what would have been the Easter holidays.
- In a video message, she thanked all school staff who kept more than 700 schools open to support the immediate response to coronavirus before asking for help in what she described as a ‘time of national need’.
- She said: “It takes a community to raise a child and that statement has never been more true. In this time of national need, our school community has stepped up and met the challenge. I am now asking you to do more and keep schools open during what would have been school holidays. “
- VOLUNTEERING: The Welsh Government has announced an initial multi-million pound funding package to support volunteers and third sector groups.
- It includes £24m for Wales’ voluntary sector and £15m for direct delivery food scheme for Wales’ most vulnerablehttps://gov.wales/multi-million-pound-boost-to-support-volunteers-and-wales-most-vulnerable
- Volunteers can continue to register to support the coronavirus response at www.volunteering-wales.net
- Stay safe while volunteering https://gov.wales/volunteers-how-help-thank-you-and-stay-safe
UPDATE 27 March 2020
SUPPORT FOR SELF-EMPLOYED PEOPLE: Economy, Transport and North Wales Minister, Ken Skates, has responded to the Chancellor’s announcement this evening, saying:
“The Chancellor’s announcement this evening is to be warmly welcomed. It will provide huge relief for hundreds of thousands of people in Wales who are self-employed.
“Of course, details are emerging about how the scheme will operate and we will be looking very closely at what gaps there are that individuals may fall through.
“We will also be looking at how the cross-sector, cross-Government fund which we will be announcing as a matter of urgency in the coming days matches seamlessly with the support that’s been announced by the UK Government today for the self-employed and the Job Retention Scheme announced last week.”
HEALTH: The Welsh Government recognises that calls to the 111 service has increased significantly. It has therefore increased resources to respond to people’s calls but the service also need people’s help.
- We are asking everyone to use the NHS Direct Wales website and online coronavirus symptom checker first if they can (and if they need to).
- The symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature and a new and persistent cough. People with these symptoms do not have to register them with 111 or with their GP surgery, but they must self-isolate for seven days at the first sign of symptoms. People they live with should also stay at home for 14 days.
- If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after seven days, use the NHS Direct Wales online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, then people should call 111.
- Only in a medical emergency should people dial 999.
- Full advice is available at https://gov.wales/stay-home-guidance-households-possible-coronavirus
- VOLUNTEERING: The Welsh Government recently launched the ‘Looking out for each other campaign’ to help people who are staying at home because of coronavirus. The campaign focuses on the small things we can all do to help each other during the pandemic. See:https://gov.wales/first-minister-launches-looking-out-each-other-campaign-wales and https://gov.wales/safe-help
- The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt has thanked those who are volunteering to help communities face the coronavirus outbreak together. She said: “Wales has a strong tradition of people helping one another out, and we’ve really seen this in action over the past few weeks. From picking up the phone, to delivering supplies to people who are self-isolating, to helping our public services, there are lots of things that can be done. All of this helps local communities, and takes pressure off the NHS.
- Wales has had a system running for 2 weeks using a platform called Volunteering in Wales. It is run by the 19 County Voluntary Councils across the whole country. Volunteer details are being gathered and matched to local opportunities. See:https://volunteering-wales.net/vk/volunteers/index.htm
- The Wales Council for Voluntary Action has issued guidance on ‘Community response to Covid-19 – enabling safe and effective practice’ – see wcva.cymru.
UPDATE 26 March 2020
- LEGISLATION: New powers to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives have now come into force in Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed.The First Minister has signed into law new public health regulations strengthening police enforcement powers in Wales. Individuals will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:
- Shopping for basic necessities and supplies, which should be as infrequently as possible;
- One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of their household;
- Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
- Travelling to and from work, but only where they cannot reasonably practicably work from home.
People should stay at least 2m away from each other at all times.
Participating in gatherings of more than two people in public spaces is also not permitted except in very limited circumstances, for example, where it is for essential work purposes. The police will have powers to enforce this.
If people do not comply with these new laws:
- They can be directed to return home or removed from where they are and returned home
- They may have to pay a fixed penalty notice of £30, which if not paid within 14 days will double to £60, and if they are issued with a second or subsequent notice the charge will be £120
Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice under the Regulations could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them. However, in the first instance the police will always apply their common sense and discretion.
- UPDATE: 113 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 741, although the true number of cases is likely to be higher.
- Six further deaths have been reported, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 28.
- BUSINESS: Businesses will start receiving emergency coronavirus grants by the middle of next week, Economy, Transport and North Wales Minister Ken Skates confirmed today https://gov.wales/grants-start-reaching-businesses
- The Welsh Government is developing a further package of support for the business community to help it deal with the impact of the outbreak. Further details will be available on Monday.
- Last week, the Welsh Government announced a £1.4bn package of support for businesses in Wales, which included grants of £25,000 and £10,000 for businesses.
- Further information about how businesses can access this funding is available on the Business Wales website:https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice
- Sainsbury’s – issues have been raised with the Welsh Government about people in Wales who are classed as at-risk or vulnerable not being able to register for priority home deliveries with Sainsbury’s. This issue also affects Scotland and Northern Ireland and involves access to sensitive personal data. We have contacted Sainsbury’s to swiftly resolve this issue. We will provide further updates.
UPDATE 25 March 2020
- HEALTH: Health Minister Vaughan Gething has said further stocks of PPE from the pandemic stockpile are being released to frontline NHS and social care workers to reinforce the regular supply routes, which are under pressure.
- The equipment is for the use of frontline health and social care staff as they care for people with confirmed or suspected coronavirus.
- Additional supplies will be issued to GPs. Supplies have already been issued to all 715 pharmacies in Wales.
- Further information is available at. https://gov.wales/written-statement-personal-protective-equipment-ppe
- Five further deaths have been reported of people who had tested positive for coronavirus, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 22.
- Health Minister Vaughan Gething has confirmed non-emergency patient transport services are focusing on hospital discharge to maximise the Welsh Ambulance Service’s emergency response to people in the community.
- RATES RELIEF: Finance Minister Rebecca Evans and Economy Minister Ken Skates have capped the 100% rates relief – it will not apply to the small number of properties in Wales with a rateable value of £500,000 and above. The relief will be focused firmly on supporting small and medium-sized businesses.
- This change will affect fewer than 200 properties across Wales but will release funding, which will be reinvested in an economic crisis fund to support those businesses, sole traders and self-employed people who are not receiving any other form of support. Further details about the fund will be available shortly.
- Further details about the change are available at:https://gov.wales/written-statement-response-covid-19-economic-crisis
- HOUSING: Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James has confirmed an initial tranche of £30m for local government. This includes £7m to support local authorities to help families of pupils who rely on free school meals and £10m to put in place urgent arrangements to protect people who are homeless or rough sleeping. More details are available at:https://gov.wales/written-statement-coronavirus-and-local-government
- TRANSPORT: Vehicle owners to be granted MOT exemption in battle against coronavirus. Temporary exemption will enable vital services to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine.
- cars, motorcycles and vans to be granted MoT exemption
- this will allow people to carry on with essential travel
- vehicles must be kept in roadworthy condition
- Vehicle owners will be granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testing, enabling them to continue to travel to work where this absolutely cannot be done from home, or shop for necessities. All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually would require an MOT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March 2020. Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.
UPDATE 24 March 2020
The Welsh Government have published further guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable.
This guidance is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of developing serious illness if they are exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) because they have a particular serious underlying health condition (these are listed below). It is also for their families, friends and carers. The guidance is for use by people in their own home, or in long-term care facilities, for the elderly, or for people with special needs.
What do we mean by ‘extremely vulnerable’?
People in this group include:
- Solid organ transplant recipients
- People with specific cancers:
- People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- People with severe single organ disease (e.g. Liver, Cardio, Renal, Neurological).
- People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell).
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
- People who are pregnant and children up to the age of 18 with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
HEALTH: New, tougher measures to control the spread of coronavirus have been introduced. The message is simple – Stay at home to save lives
- Work at home if you can and do not travel unless absolutely necessary
- You should continue to go to medical appointments but only leave the house to exercise once a day and to shop for food.
- High street shops are closed.
- The guidance is available at https://gov.wales/full-guidance-staying-home-and-away-others
- A video message from the FM is available at: https://twitter.com/fmwales/status/1242199919739506693
- We have set out five simple steps to help people use GP services to protect themselves and healthcare staff. These are available at https://gov.wales/simple-steps-help-your-gp-practice-help-you
- Letters are being sent to more than 100,000 people across Wales this week who are extremely vulnerable to developing a serious illness if they are exposed to coronavirus.
- They are being asked to adopt “shielding” measures to protect themselves – this includes staying at home for at least 12 weeks.
- We have been working with local authorities and the WCVA to ensure support is available for these people if they do not have friends and family nearby to help them
- This group of people are considered to be extremely vulnerable because they have specific, long-term health conditions.
- The First Minister and Health Minister today made statements about coronavirus in the Senedd. These are available athttps://record.assembly.wales/Plenary/6266#A700000181More information is available at: https://gov.wales/further-action-protect-people-highest-risk-coronavirus
- The First Minister will review the current guidance around construction sites – at present they are able to work as normal.
- To help reduce the number of people who could potentially be exposed to coronavirus and to continue to reduce the risk of it spreading, we are considering whether the guidelines could be tightened to ensure only sites which undertaking essential maintenance or repair work or are crucial to the coronavirus response continue to operate.
- Speaking at his press conference today, the First Minister said: “I believe there’s a strong case for closing some sites.”
- The FM’s press conference is available on the @FMWales Twitter feed https://www.pscp.tv/w/1lPKqVYwzOeGb
- HOUSING: Guidance has been issued to all Welsh local authorities about the measures needed to support homeless people and rough sleepers, including:
- Ensuring people who are, or are at risk of, sleeping rough, and those in inadequate temporary accommodation have the support, resources and policies needed to protect themselves.
- Have access to the facilities to enable them to adhere to public health guidance on hygiene or isolation.
- Use alternative powers and funding to assist those with no recourse to public funds who require shelter and other forms of support due to the coronavirus pandemic
- Mitigate their risk of infection and to ensure they are able to self-isolate.
- Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James last week announced £10m to support services for people who are homeless and rough sleeping during the coronavirus outbreak.
- UPDATE: A further death of a person who tested positive for coronavirus has been reported, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 17.
UPDATE 23 March 2020
The First Minister has announced sweeping new measures in Wales to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Speaking tonight Mark Drakeford AM said:
“Over the last few weeks, we have asked everyone to make changes to the way they live their lives. We have asked you to stay at home. We’ve asked you to work from home if you can and not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary.
“We’ve done this to slow the spread of coronavirus in Wales. To save lives and to protect our NHS.
“But now we have to introduce more, even tighter measures.
“From now on, all high street shops will be closed, expect those selling food, pharmacies, banks and post offices.
“Local NHS services, including your GP, will continue to be open.
“But all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, as well as gatherings of more than two people in public should not take place.
“Funerals will continue to be held but only with close family present.
“We’re asking everyone to stay at home – please only go out once a day to shop for basic food if you have to and to exercise close to home.
“Everyone should now also work from home, if you can.
“These are really big changes for us all. We are making them because of the speed the virus is continuing to spread.
“Please help us protect you and to save lives. We can do this together.”
- All high street shops will be closed, expect those selling food, pharmacies, banks and post offices.
- Local NHS services, including your GP, will continue to be open.
- All social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, as well as gatherings of more than two people in public should not take place.
- Funerals will continue to be held but only with close family present.
- We’re asking everyone to stay at home – please only go out once a day to shop for basic food if you have to and to exercise close to home.
- Everyone should now also work from home, if they can.
Tough new measures to slow the spread of coronavirus introduced today
First Minister Mark Drakeford today announced tough new measures to slow the spread of coronavirus in Wales and save lives.
Caravan parks, campsites, tourist hotspots and popular beauty spots will be closed to visitors from today. Local authorities are also enforcing the closure of pubs throughout Wales following reports some are flouting the shutdown introduced on Saturday. Licensed premises, which continue to trade will risk losing their licence.
- TRAVEL: Visit Wales has temporarily changed its name to Visit Wales. Later. More information is available at:https://www.visitwales.com/coronavirus
- Digital signs on many of the major roads in Wales have been changed to urge people to stay at home to protect the NHS.
- The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society has announced the cancellation of the 2020 Royal Welsh Showhttps://rwas.wales/blog/2020/03/19/covid-19-official-statement-issued-by-the-royal-welsh-agricultural-society-regarding-our-future-events/
- HEALTH: Four further deaths of people who have tested positive for coronavirus have been reported, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 16. The number of deaths is now being reported by Public Health Wales in its daily update https://covid19-phwstatement.nhs.wales/
- Health Minister Vaughan Gething has announced an extra £10m to speed up construction of sections of the new Grange University Hospital, which will provide up to 350 extra hospital beds for use by the end of April 2020. More details at https://abuhb.nhs.wales/coronavirus/latest-official-information-from-the-health-board-on-coronavirus-covid-19/?CFID=eb23b541-c0eb-4ef3-9749-d0edd9c69c89&CFTOKEN=0
- The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published coronavirus guidelines to support NHS Wales and social care https://gov.wales/coronavirus-national-institute-health-and-care-excellence-nice-guidelines
UPDATE 22 March 2020
First Minister Mark Drakeford has urged people in Wales not to travel unless absolutely.
- He said: “Self-isolation for those who have symptoms and social distancing by everyone is absolutely essential at this stage if we are to delay the spread of this virus and save lives.
- “We all need to follow this advice now to protect each other and our families and to help ensure our NHS is not overwhelmed.
- “Social distancing includes avoiding all but essential travel and if people don’t follow this advice we will have no choice but to use powers to enforce it.
- Social distancing guidance is available athttps://gov.wales/coronavirus-social-distancing-guidance
- EDUCATION: Education Minister Kirsty Williams has today published the five things parents need to know before sending their child to school under the new arrangements, which start tomorrow (Monday March 23). These are:
- The latest scientific advice
- Social distancing for children
- The latest advice for critical workers
- Advice if one parent is a critical worker
- What local authorities are doing
- To read the five things, visit https://gov.wales/5-things-you-need-know-sending-your-children-school-or-childcare
- HEALTH: A new campaign will be launched in Wales which provides guidance about how to help people who are staying at home because of coronavirus. The Looking Out for Each Othercampaign focuses on the small things we can all do to help each other during the pandemic.
- A new online hub – gov.wales/safehelp – will also be launched and will include a ‘helping hand’ card, which can be downloaded and put through the letterboxes of neighbours to offer help to those who are isolating.
- Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has announced the closure of all play areas in its area encourage people to follow the social distancing guidelines https://www.rctcbc.gov.uk/EN/Newsroom/PressReleases/2020/March/CoronavirusresponseCouncilLeaderannouncesclosureofallplayareas.aspx
- TRANSPORT: NHS staff will be able to travel to work for free on Transport for Wales services from Monday until April 30 on production of their NHS ID.
- HOUSING: Emergency legislation to protect renters and landlords affected by COVID-19 will apply to Wales, Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James has confirmed. https://gov.wales/greater-protection-tenants-and-landlords-affected-coronavirus-wales
Update 21 March 2020
HEALTH: In a press conference this morning the Minister for Health and Social Services announced a number of new measures.
The Minister also announced that pharmacies can open an hour later and close an hour earlier. They can also close for two hours in the middle of the day, if necessary to give pharmacy staff the protection they need to fulfil the medicines supply role and to protect their own health and wellbeing. He asked community pharmacies to remain flexible during these times so they can respond to the needs of their most vulnerable customers, especially those in high-risk groups.
EDUCATION: The Welsh Government has today confirmed support for families of children who receive free school meals. Up to £7 million of additional funding will be provided to local authorities to urgently provide financial assistance to families of pupils who rely on free school meals, but are unable to receive them due to school closures.
Guidance will be issued to local authorities to make arrangements to ensure children and young people eligible for free school meals receive access to alternative provision.
- SCHOOLS: The Welsh Government has confirmed support for families of children who receive free school meals – up to £7m will be provided to local authorities to ensure free school meals are still available after schools are closed.
- Guidance will be issued to local authorities to make arrangements to ensure children and young people eligible for free school meals receive access to alternative meal provision.
- All local authorities across Wales have begun making emergency provision, including collection facilities from schools or delivering food to homes or community locations.
- Local authorities also have the option of providing gift cards and e-vouchers from local retailers and distributing them to families.
- More details are available at: https://gov.wales/welsh-government-makes-7-million-available-support-pupils-while-schools-are-closed
- Free school meals guidance for schools https://gov.wales/free-school-meals-coronavirus-guidance-schools
- A Q&A about how schools will work from Monday March 23 is available at https://gov.wales/how-schools-will-work-during-coronavirus-pandemic
- HEALTH: Wales’ former health and social care professionals are being asked to return to work as part of an emergency recruitment drive to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
- Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer and Director of Social Services and Integration have made simultaneous appeals to their colleagues to sign-up to support those affected.
- Final-year students will also be offered paid work in the NHS to help boost the workforce over the coming months.
- More details are available at: https://gov.wales/former-and-future-health-and-social-care-professionals-needed-help-wales-respond-coronavirus
- TESTING: The number of coronavirus tests carried out every day in Wales will be increased rapidly as capacity is expanded in the weeks ahead, Health Minister Vaughan Gething has confirmed.
- At the moment more than 800 tests a day are being carried out.
- This will increase to 6,000 daily by 1 April and to 8,000 by 7 April.
- Further information is available at: https://gov.wales/written-statement-coronavirus-covid-19-update
- HEALTH: Personal protective equipment (PPE) is being distributed to all social care settings in Wales.
- The guidance states that PPE is not required if neither the care worker nor the individual receiving care and support has symptoms of coronavirus – but normal good hygiene practices should be maintained at all times.
- If PPE is needed in social care while stocks are being rolled out, it will be available from NHS stores.
- Health Minister Vaughan Gething has said community pharmacies will be allowed to open an hour later and close an hour earlier and they will be allowed to close for two hours in the middle of the day, if necessary, to give staff the time they need to fulfil their vital medicines supply role and to protect staff health and wellbeing. He has asked community pharmacies to remain flexible during these times so they can respond to the needs of their most vulnerable customers, especially those in high-risk groups.
- A further two coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed, bringing the number of deaths in Wales to five. A 75-year-old died at Singleton Hospital, in Swansea and a 98-year-old died at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, in North Wales. Both people had underlying health conditions.
- People self-isolating during the coronavirus outbreak do not need to go to their GP to get a sick note to give to their employer.
- Instead, an online coronavirus self-isolation note is now available in Wales. It should be used for people with symptoms who need to self-isolate for seven days and those living with someone with symptoms, who need to self-isolate for 14 days.
- The note can be filled in and given to employers, without involving a doctor, ensuring GP services can focus on patient care.
- To get an isolation note, complete the online symptom checker athttps://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/SelfAssessments/symptomcheckers/?ScName=CoronaVirusCOVID19&SCTId=175 and follow the steps
- Breast Test Wales, Cervical Screening Wales, Bowel Screening Wales, Diabetic Eye Screening Wales and Wales Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening have temporarily paused their population screening services during the coronavirus pandemic. The move is in response to government guidance to stop non-essential social contact and travel, guidance for vulnerable groups and practical constraints relating to staff shortages. https://phw.nhs.wales/news/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-temporarily-pauses-some-of-the-screening-programmes-in-wales/
- The First Minister has made the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Wales) Regulations 2020 under sections 45C(1), (3)(c), (4)(d), 45F(2) and 45P of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, which come into force today. These require the closure of businesses selling food or drink for consumption on the premises to protect against the risks to public health arising from coronavirus.
- The regulations also apply to cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, bingo halls, concert halls, museums and galleries, casinos, betting shops, spas, massage parlours, indoor skating rinks, indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres.
- HOUSING: Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James has announced the VE Day commemorations in Wales will be postponed. Events will also be postponed in England and Scotlandhttps://www.gov.uk/government/news/ve-day-commemorations-to-change-to-protect-veterans
- TRANSPORT: From Monday, Transport for Wales will be running a reduced timetable on its network until further notice. Sunday service times will be applied seven days a week, with some additional train services operating in the mornings to support selected urban commuter routes. Train times are available on the Transport for Wales website, app and via National Rail Enquires.
Update 20 March 2020
FIRST MINISTER STATEMENT – ADDITIONAL MEASURES
“This afternoon I attended a COBR meeting, where further significant measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak were agreed across the four nations of the United Kingdom.
Earlier this week, we agreed a number of important actions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.
We asked people to take action, for example by not attending pubs, clubs, restaurants and other public places. Many people have heeded that strong advice, and behaved responsibly in the interests of our whole society. We have seen that all around us over the past days and I am very grateful to all those who have done so.
However, we now need everyone to do what most people are doing already because otherwise, we will not slow the disease at the rate that we must.
COBR therefore considered and agreed a series of further measures, which are designed to increase the level of public compliance with the earlier advice.
Health is a devolved responsibility, and as Welsh Ministers, we will tonight exercise our powers under the 1984 Public Health Act in order to close restaurants, pubs, bars and other facilities where people gather. This also includes leisure centres, gyms, cinemas, theatres and betting shops. I will sign the necessary regulations later tonight, and they will come into force immediately.
We do not take this move lightly, and we know this will be immensely difficult for those employed in the industries affected.
But this is the right thing to do. We are tackling this virus in a controlled and determined way to protect and care for the most vulnerable people in our society.
Together we can make that difference.”
- SCHOOLS: Today schools closed for normal education provision across Wales. From Monday March 23, they will reopen to provide support for those children who cannot safely be looked after at home and for children of parents who are defined as critical workers.
- Our advice is:
- If it is at all possible for children to be at home, they should be
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is critical to the Covid-19 response, then provision in an educational or childcare setting should be available for them
- Parents should not rely anyone who has been advised to be following social distancing guidance, such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions, for childcare.
- Parents should do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in ways, which could contribute to spreading coronavirus. Children should observe the same social distancing guidance as adults.
- Residential special schools and special settings should continue to care for children wherever possible.
- We will be continuing to provide food for children who receive free school meals. Further advice and guidance will be available tomorrow.
- Further guidance for schools is available at https://gov.wales/school-closures-20-march-2020-faqs
- Qualifications Wales has made a statement about exams in Wales following the decision to cancel this year. The statement is available at: https://www.qualificationswales.org/english/coronavirus/issuing-grades-for-qualifications-summer-2020/
- HELP FOR THE HOMELESS: We are making £10m available to councils throughout Wales to help them to take immediate and direct action to protect the homeless and rough sleepers in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Housing Minister Julie James today confirmed.
- The additional funding will enable local authorities to secure the accommodation needed to ensure those without a home can be protected, supported, and isolated if necessary.
- Further details are available at https://gov.wales/10-million-emergency-support-rough-sleepers-wales-during-coronavirus-outbreak
- HEALTH: A third person has died in Wales after contracting coronavirus. The 71-year-old was receiving treatment at the Princess of Wales Hospital, in Bridgend and had underlying health problems.
Update 19 March 2020
- BUSINESS SUPPORT: The Welsh Government last night confirmed a £1.4bn package of support for businesses to help them as the coronavirus outbreak progresses.
- The new package provides retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in Wales with a year-long business rates holiday in 2020-21;
- A grant of £25,000 for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000;
- A £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for small business rates relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.
- As far as possible, the rates relief will be operated through the non-domestic rates system for 2020-21. We will reduce the red tape for businesses to receive grants.
- This matches the measures the Chancellor announced this week for businesses in England, and provides a much-needed boost for small businesses in Wales, which are at the heart of our economy and are struggling to cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
- The £1.4bn package extends the emergency £200m rates relief support we were able to announce on March 17.
- Further information about the business support available in Wales is set out in the attached Q&A.
- Economy Minister Ken Skates today held an emergency meeting of the Council for Economic Development to discuss businesses’ needs and also held talks with the banks.
- HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has a dedicated helpline for businesses concerned about being able to pay tax due to COVID-19: 0800 0159 559.
- Acas provides workplace advice for employers and employees. It has a page on Coronavirus that is being updated daily. It also provides a £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. Business Advice can been found here:•
- Business Wales has a page on Coronavirus and support packages https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice and can be contacted on 03000 6 03000.• UK Government Business Advice see the page here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
- SCHOOLS: Education Minister Kirsty Williams will today take part in an online Q&A with children about coronavirus. It is being broadcast on our @WelshGovernment Twitter channel at 5.30pm
- All schools in Wales will be closed from Friday for normal classes and exams will not be held this summer.
- A Q&A is attached, which sets out the latest education information.
- CHILDCARE: Childcare Offer for Wales payments will continue even if children do not attend due to coronavirus isolation. The Welsh Government is announcing funding for the Childcare Offer for Wales will continue to be paid to local authorities and childcare settings who currently receive payments for children in their care, even where services are disrupted.Childcare settings are not being required to close, and will remain open for the time being. However Welsh Ministers have agreed that where a setting is closed on medical advice, or if children are not able to attend due to Covid-19, funding will still be made available.Funding will also continue where staffing numbers fall to a level that the setting is no longer safe to operate.Welsh Ministers also expect local authorities to maintain payments for childcare provided under Flying Start and for the provision of early education. The Childcare Offer for Wales provides 30 hours a week of government-funded early education (FPN) and childcare for eligible working parents of 3 to 4 year olds, for up to 48 weeks of the year. This is available throughout Wales.
- HEALTH: Pharmacist Natalie Proctor has recorded a myth-busting video about the use of ibuprofen and coronavirus. It is available at: https://twitter.com/WGHealthandCare/status/1240352116574732290
- Wales’ Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Andrew Evans has set out the five steps everyone can take to get the right support from their community pharmacy https://gov.wales/simple-steps-help-your-pharmacy-help-you
- Health Minister Vaughan Gething’s written statement setting out Wales’ approach to coronavirus testing is available at: https://gov.wales/written-statement-coronavirus-covid-19-testing
Update: 18 March 2020
- SCHOOLS: All schools in Wales will close on Friday March 20
- We are acting on a change of expert advice and increasing numbers of staff who are self-isolating.
- From next week, schools will have a new purpose to support those most in need, including those people who are involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak.
- We are working with local government to finalise these plans, including ensuring children who receive free school meals and those with additional learning needs are looked after.
- Summer exams will not be going ahead. Education Minister Kirsty Williams: “We are in an unprecedented period, one that is changing hour-by-hour, and governments around the world are having to make quick decisions. We recognise the worry and anxiety that the uncertainty around the summer exam series was causing. Today I met with Qualifications Wales and WJEC to consider options that are in the best interests of our learners. We recognise that there are no easy choices but we have agreed that the best way forward is not to proceed with summer exam series. Learners due to sit their GCSEs and A levels this summer will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work, drawing on the range of information that is available. We will be working with the sector to announce further details shortly but wanted to give this early certainty. We also won’t be using the results to publish performance measure outcomes in 2020.”
- CHILDCARE: The Welsh Government has confirmed funding for the childcare offer for Wales will continue to be paid to local authorities and childcare settings even if services are disrupted during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Childcare settings will remain open until we have definitive advice from the Chief Medical Officer and from Public Health Wales that closures are required
- HOUSING: The Welsh Government is introducing a temporary three-month interest repayment holiday for interest-bearing Help to Buy Wales customers who may suffer financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Housing Minister Julie James today confirmed https://gov.wales/housing-minister-confirms-help-buy-wales-loan-interest-repayment-holiday
- HEALTH: Wales is introducing a phased roll-out of coronavirus testing to ensure people who are essential to the response to the outbreak are available. Testing will be prioritised for patients and for those healthcare staff involved in frontline clinical care; as capacity increases, further guidance will be issued about who will be eligible for testing.
- Health Minister Vaughan Gething has made regulations to ensure the public are protected as far as possible from the transmission of the virus. In accordance with regulation three, he has declared the incidence or transmission of novel coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health. The measures set out in the regulations will help to delay or prevent further transmission of the virus. Further information is available at https://gov.wales/health-protection-coronavirus-wales-regulations-2020
- BUSINESS SUPPORT: The Development Bank of Wales is offering all its business customers a three-month capital repayment holiday to help them manage the financial fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
- Support and advice is available from Business Wales athttps://businesswales.gov.wales/ or call 03000 6 03000. The Development Bank of Wales can be contacted onhttps://developmentbank.wales/ or 0800 587 4140.
Update 17 March 2020
- The Welsh Government has announced a £200m package of support for businesses to help them pay their rates bills. Full details of the announcement are available at:https://gov.wales/emergency-support-businesses-hit-coronavirus
- First Minister Mark Drakeford has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for an “unprecedented way to enable businesses who are threatened with imminent bankruptcy” as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. A copy of the letter is available @fmwales
- The National Museum for Wales, National Library, Wales Millennium Centre and Cadw sites with staffed visitor centres have been closed to the public
- The First Minister will be meeting the WLGA and WCVA on Wednesday to discuss how vulnerable people who are asked to stay at home to protect themselves from coronavirus can be supported.
- A second death of a person with coronavirus was confirmed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton this afternoon. The 96-year-old had underlying health conditions and was being treated at Morriston Hospital, in Swansea.
Update 16 March 2020
- Sadly, Wales recorded its first coronavirus-related death today. The 68-year-old had been treated in Wrexham Maelor Hospital and had underlying health conditions. The First Minister has sent his condolences to the person’s family and friends.
- If anyone in your family or household has symptoms (a new persistent cough or a temperature) the whole household should stay at home for 14 days. We are also asking everyone to think about their daily lives and consider what steps they can take to reduce their contact and interaction with large groups of people – could they work from home, for example, or stop mixing with others while coronavirus is circulating.
- This advice is really important for people over 70; for people who have an underlying medical condition (those who would normally receive a free flu jab) and for pregnant women. For most people coronavirus will be a mild illness, but we believe these are the groups, which are most at risk of developing a more serious illness.
- We understand this is extremely unsettling for people and there will be many questions. We are doing our best to ensure that guidance is available in writing and this will be updated to the Public Health Wales website (link below) and the Welsh Government website as soon as possible.
- It is likely we will be announcing more extraordinary measures in the next week to protect the most vulnerable groups. We will keep you informed about this.
- The advice is that larger gatherings should not go ahead – we want to make sure all our public and emergency services are responding to the outbreak.
- Estyn has announced it will be cancelling all school inspections and visits to ensure school staff are able to focus on keeping schools open and the wellbeing of pupils and students. Further details are available at https://www.estyn.gov.wales/news/estyn-inspections-and-other-visits-suspended-support-providers-stay-open-and-reduce-pressure-%E2%80%93
- The Welsh Government has postponed the St David Awards, which were due to be held on Thursday.
- Economy Minister Ken Skates has announced support for businesses affected by coronavirus and will speak to companies about what else they need to respond to the outbreak. The Development Bank of Wales will offer all its business customers a three-month capital repayment holiday https://gov.wales/businesses-offered-capital-repayment-holidays-help-manage-coronavirus-impact
- We will be making further announcements about coronavirus support for businesses, including rates relief.
Update 15 March 2020
- Economy Minister Ken Skates will today (Monday March 16) announce support for businesses affected by coronavirus and will speak to companies about what else they need to respond to the outbreak.
- The Development Bank of Wales will offer all its business customers a three-month capital repayment holiday.
- We will be making further announcements about coronavirus support for businesses in the coming days, including rates relief. Finance Minister Rebecca Evans wrote to the UK Treasury on Friday seeking urgent clarity about the level of rates relief funding it will guarantee, recognising the greater number of small business in Wales and their specific needs.
- Business Wales and the Development Bank of Wales can provide businesses with tailored support and advice about dealing with coronavirus, from financial and supply chain planning to advice on staffing issues. The Welsh Government is also talking to banks about what support they will offer businesses during this period.
- Our NHS is working hard to treat people who have been confirmed with coronavirus while also dealing with the everyday and emergency healthcare needs of the Welsh population. NHS staff are doing a fantastic job and we thank them for their hard work.
- As demand for coronavirus-related hospital treatment increases, the NHS will need to reduce planned activity, including operations and outpatient appointments, to increase capacity.
- The NHS is postponing planned operations and outpatient operations in a phased way to create the extra capacity in hospitals, which will be needed to care for people who become seriously ill with coronavirus and extra critical care capacity. Everyone affected will be contacted by their health board about their treatment.
- Health Minister Vaughan Gething’s statement is available at: https://gov.wales/written-statement-coronavirus-covid-19-2
- We are rolling out video conferencing technology to GP surgeries so people can access healthcare advice and have consultations with healthcare professionals without going into their local surgery. The online symptom checker is also available at https://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/SelfAssessments/symptomcheckers/?ScName=CoronaVirusCOVID19&SCTId=175
- Food supplies
- We are extending delivery hours for supermarkets and other food retailers to ensure the food industry can respond to increased consumer demand during the coronavirus outbreak. Local planning authorities have been instructed to temporarily relax the enforcement of the planning conditions restricting night-time and early morning deliveries, which will allow retailers to accept deliveries throughout the day and night where necessary. More information is available at https://gov.wales/new-measures-relax-supermarket-delivery-hours-during-coronavirus-outbreak