A Message from Council Leader Nigel Daniels

To the residents of Blaenau Gwent,

The number of Coronavirus cases continues to rise in Wales and more people are being admitted into hospitals and into critical care, and some sadly dying. In order to regain control of the virus and make sure the NHS is not overwhelmed and able to continue to provide its other vital services, the Welsh Government decided that a short national ‘firebreak’ period will come into effect at 6pm on Friday, 23rd October 2020.

The restrictions are predominantly the same as the earlier national lockdown, with some variations around Education, Childcare and allowing adults who live alone or are single parents to form an extended household. This is recognised as being important for people’s mental health and well-being.

The ‘firebreak’ essentially means:

• People must stay at home, except for very limited purposes, such as for exercise; education; work or shopping for essentials
• Wherever possible, people should work from home
• People must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with either indoors and outdoors
• No gatherings will be allowed outdoors, such as Halloween or fireworks/Bonfire night or other organised activities
• All non-food retail, hospitality businesses, including cafes, restaurants and pubs (unless they provide take-away or delivery services), will close
• Contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, and events and tourism businesses, such as hotels, will close
• Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will close
• Local parks, playgrounds and outdoor gyms will remain open. However, exercise should be undertaken locally – from home or as close as possible to the home. In general, this should not involve people driving to a location away from home

I’m pleased that the Welsh Government is putting great emphasis on the importance of Education continuing for our children and young people, recognising this is important for their development and their well-being. For the vast majority of our learners, school will resume as normal after the half-term break. For some Secondary learners it will means a temporary return to remote learning, and our schools are fully geared up to support this. We will also continue to support vulnerable pupils and their families through our support services. Digitally excluded pupils will continue to have access to the devices and connectivity we provided so nobody is at a disadvantage when it comes to having what they need to learn at home.

With the appropriate Covid Secure measures in place it is important for children and young people to attend school. We have had instances where groups of pupils and staff have been required to self-isolate, but this is reflected across the whole of Wales and is considered the right thing to do to track transmission in the community. My continued thanks to all working in Education in Blaenau Gwent for your dedication to our future generations.

I know people are genuinely concerned about the effect this ‘firebreak’ will have on local businesses which have already been hit hard by the Pandemic. The Welsh Government has pledged to provide support for those businesses affected and you can find more information here – https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/

I hope that when this is over, we will all do what we can to support those businesses on our doorstep and ‘shop local’ in order to help these businesses and aid our economy here in Blaenau Gwent.

In terms of local services, the main changes are in relation to our household waste recycling centre; Registration Services; sports centres and libraries. You can find the latest on services here - https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/emergencies-crime-prevention/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-information/

Our council teams continue to be very busy providing services to the people of Blaenau Gwent, and managing the Coronavirus response and resulting local incidents. Our Contact Tracing Team, part of the wider Gwent service, is doing a fantastic job in tracing people who have been in contact with a positive case and providing support and advice. This work is vitally important if we are to keep a handle on cases in our community and prevent more widespread outbreaks.

Shielding for vulnerable people is not being re-introduced, however by abiding strictly by the rules in place these people will reduce their risk of exposure to the virus. If you are struggling and have no support, or you are concerned about someone in your community, do not hesitate to get in touch with us on 01495 311556.

I fully understand that people are growing weary of having restrictions placed on their lives which impact us all. However, I would urge you to continue to follow the advice and help to kerb this terrible virus, which for some has devastating consequences. I would like to thank our residents in Blaenau Gwent for sticking to the rules and playing their part in this important aim. If anyone is struggling at this time, there are support services available, so please speak to someone. You can find some useful contacts here - https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/emergencies-crime-prevention/local-help-support-covid-19/

I know that many people may have had plans for Halloween and Bonfire Night which are now cancelled. Please enjoy yourselves safely at home for this year.

As a Council, we will continue to work with the Welsh Government; Public Health and Local Government colleagues across Wales to put the safety and wellbeing of our communities first.

Please let’s continue to work together to #KeepWalesSafe.

Thank you.
Councillor Nigel Daniels
Leader Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

• The NHS COVID-19 app is used alongside traditional contact tracing to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus. You can download the NHS COVID-19 app from the App Store or Google Play Store. For more information on the NHS COVID-19 app visit www.covid19.nhs.uk

• For the latest information on council services go to - https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/resident/emergencies-crime-prevention/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-information/

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