On Friday the First Minister set out the next steps in easing the Coronavirus restrictions that would further unlock Wales and allow the country to continue on a path towards a new normal. The announcement covered three specific areas – the reopening of non-essential retail on June 22nd; schools beginning a phased return on June 29th; and the potential lifting of the “Stay Local” advice on July 6th , if the circumstances continue to improve. Until then everyone should do their best to stay as local as possible, unless they are providing essential care for others or feel that an isolated loved one would benefit from a socially distanced, outdoor visit.
Importantly there was also notice given to the tourism sector to begin planning the reopening of self-contained accommodation, with independent kitchens and bathrooms, if the circumstances allow after the next review on July 9. I know this will be welcome news to many tourism businesses in Delyn and across our corner of the country. We all recognise that the tourism industry provides so much for our economy, but it is key that we continue a cautious approach to easing restrictions and prevent any further spread of the virus and protect individuals, communities and the economy from a second peak.
With non-essential retail beginning to open their doors again this week in Wales, I want to take the opportunity to say thank you once again – this time to the independent shops that have kept our communities and country going throughout these challenging weeks and months. I’ve been incredibly impressed by the extra mile many local businesses have gone as a consequence of the current circumstances, whether setting up on online, doing home deliveries or offering a takeaway service. Many readers will know that I have always been a keen advocate of “shopping local” and use small businesses across Flintshire in my day to day life. I’m always keen to use my platform regularly to promote the amazing goods and services that we have right on our doorstep, but now it is more important than ever.
We cannot forget the small businesses who found ways of working throughout this pandemic, or those who had to close their doors temporarily, and so I will be using my platform to once again highlight why we should all “Love Local”. Farm shops, open-air markets, bookshops, bars, coffee shops – the list goes on. There are so many businesses that contribute so much to our communities and that is why I want to encourage others to consider shopping local as much as possible. I’ll be using my social media to promote businesses, so please keep an eye out for some great recommendations and feel free to let me know if there are any businesses which you think I should be mentioning.
There have also been many brilliant community groups and churches offering support to some of our most vulnerable in recent weeks who are now looking at how they can step up the support they offer to our communities again. On Friday I was invited to speak to individuals involved with various church and community halls about what the current circumstances mean for them, what support is available to help and importantly how they could adapt to the “new normal”. A big thank you to Parkfields Community Centre for organising the meeting and inviting me along. These Halls, as well as the groups and organisations that use them, can often be a lifeline for some of our most vulnerable and isolated people. It is so important that they are able to adapt and begin offering their support once again in a safe way, as soon as possible.
My series of virtual Future Flintshire sessions are still ongoing, this time meeting with individuals, organisations and businesses from the Flint area about what they think needs to be considered as we recover from the impact of coronavirus. There are still more sessions to be held where I want to hear views on the economy, education and environment, as well as health, transport and any other topics people wish to raise. If you are interested in sharing your views with me then please get in touch on 01352 762102 or by emailing Hannah.Blythyn@senedd.wales.