Last Thursday at 6pm, Conwy and Denbighshire, along with Wrexham and Flintshire, became the latest local authorities in Wales to face additional coronavirus restrictions.
Under the new rules, residents are not allowed to enter or leave their local authority area without a reasonable excuse, such as attending a place of education, work or for health appointments. People are not allowed to meet indoors with anyone they do not live with – this includes extended households (sometimes called a “bubble”), and everyone must work from home wherever possible. Also people must not gather outdoors in groups of more than 30, face coverings must be worn in indoor public spaces (subject to certain exemptions and exceptions), and licensed premises, including pubs, restaurants, Off licences, supermarkets and other retail outlets, must not sell alcohol after 10pm.
Having faced months of stringent restrictions under the national lockdown earlier in the year, we had all hoped that it wouldn’t come to this.
Since the new restrictions were announced by the Welsh Government, my inbox has been flooded with emails from residents and businesses concerned about the impact they will have on people’s wellbeing and livelihoods, and many people, including myself and other local politicians, have questioned whether such measures are entirely necessary.
There is no denying that Covid-19 infection rates have generally risen across North Wales during September, however they remain significantly lower than those within local lockdown areas elsewhere.
The Welsh Government therefore needs to be fully transparent and outline to all residents of Denbighshire, Conwy, Flintshire and Wrexham why such restrictions in these areas are needed, including sharing community by community data so that we can see whether the measures are proportionate. It is also essential that the restrictions are reviewed regularly.
We face tough weeks ahead, but we have done it before and I am confident we can all achieve what is needed of us again.
Undoubtedly, people are going to require support along the way and I was therefore extremely pleased to hear that the British Red Cross is offering continued support with the local restrictions in both Denbighshire and Conwy.
The charity offers a hardship fund and cash assistance programme to support people without access to money and are keen to bring Denbighshire County Council and Conwy County Council on board as a referral partner, something I will be pushing for.
The hardship fund can provide people with a cash grant of £120 per month for 3 months, up to a maximum of 3 persons per household. This intervention is designed to help those most financially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Email email@example.com for more information or to begin the process.
They also have many volunteers in the Denbighshire and Conwy area who are ready, willing and able to support vulnerable or isolated people in the area. Their volunteers are able to help with; Food sorting and delivery to vulnerable households; Telephone ‘check-in and chats’ with lonely and isolated people; Leaflet drops in partnership within Denbighshire and Conwy; Prescription delivery to vulnerable households; and patient transport services
The Red Cross National Covid-19 Support Line 0808 196 3651, open 10am until 6pm daily, has helped more than 10,000 callers across the UK since April. The free and confidential support line can: help with practical information and advice; provide emotional support; connect people with support in their area, and organise food and prescription deliveries to vulnerable households.
Please stay safe and stay strong, and don’t forget to look out for those living alone, particularly the elderly, whilst we are living under these new restrictions.