Earlier this week the First Minister set out the next steps when the fire break period comes to an end, as promised, on Monday 9 November. This means that businesses, community centres, places of worship and other services which had to close will be able to reopen.
From this date two households will be able to form a “bubble” to meet in each other’s homes. We are more likely to catch the virus from and pass on to, our families, friends and loved ones. That is why we must continue to do all we can to keep one another safe.
There will be no travel restrictions within Wales, but we still need to consider whether or not travel is essential. In particular any travel across the border should be essential only. It’s for all of us to continue to play our part to keep our communities and our country safe, asking ourselves not what can I do but what should I do?
Despite repeated requests from the Welsh Government and local government in the North West of England, where many of us have friends and family, the UK Government initially refused to expand certain financial support packages. This initial response was of course disappointing, particularly considering the Welsh Government had offered to cover additional costs involved in bringing the new support scheme forward.
These requests were made not to play politics, but to provide support for workers and businesses, ensuring that people stayed in their jobs. It was only following the announcement of a four-week lockdown in England did the UK Government agree to expand furlough and the self-employed grant scheme.
Recognising the financial pressures that many people are under and the impact self-isolation can have, the Welsh Government has announced £32 million to fund two schemes to financially support people in Delyn, and across Wales, who are asked to self-isolate due to coronavirus.
People on low income who test positive for the virus, or are advised to self-isolate by Test, Trace, Protect, after being near someone with the virus, will be able to apply for a £500 payment. Those who are advised to self-isolate, but cannot work from home and would lose income, will be able to apply for the payment through the Flintshire County Council website. Criteria such as receiving Universal Credit or other benefits will apply.
Staff in the social care sector who are asked to self-isolate due to contact with the virus, will have their Statutory Sick Pay topped up to their normal wages by the Welsh Government. This will apply to people working in care homes, and as domiciliary and personal assistants. The top up scheme will run until 31 March 2020.
Self-isolation is a key part of preventing the further spread of the virus, which is why the Welsh Government are expanding the regulations to ensure this takes place. This will include a duty for people to self-isolate when they are advised to by Test, Trace, Protect, and a duty on employers meaning they cannot prevent employees from self-isolating.
The fire break taking place now has of course meant that we will be unable to mark Remembrance Sunday in our traditional ways. This is a time where our communities normally gather to pay our respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice during past and current conflicts.
Although we cannot join together in our traditional way, we should still make the effort to give our thanks and remember those we have lost. The Royal British Legion are encouraging people to stand on their doorsteps and participate in the two minute silence, as well as displaying poppies in their windows, and I would encourage you to pay your respects in your own way.
As always, if you have any questions or queries, then please do get in touch on 01352 762102 or at Hannah.Blythyn@senedd.wales.