As a result of increasing levels of infection across Wales, the Welsh Government have implemented a ‘firebreak lockdown’. From 6pm today until the start of Monday 9 November, there will be a new set of restrictions in place. We must now stay at home, except for limited and specific purposes, and we must not visit other households or meet with people indoors or outdoors who do not live in our households. Most shops and hospitality venues will close, including pubs and restaurants. For the week after half term, secondary schools will provide online learning only for all pupils except those in years 7 and 8, but primary schools and childcare settings will remain open. Face coverings will continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that remain open, such as in supermarkets and on public transport. I know this will be a difficult and frustrating fortnight, but it’s clear that we are facing a very difficult winter and we must all play our part to help keep levels of infection down. For more information and to find the answers to frequently asked questions, take a look at the Welsh Government website here.
You may have seen me on Newsnight on Monday night, talking about the party under new Leadership and why I support Keir Starmer’s approach. I was also on the airwaves this week with Radio Wales discussing the appalling misogyny and sexism that has characterised the UK Government’s dealings with the beauty and wellbeing industry for years. This sector is an incredibly important one for our economy and communities, with hundreds of thousands of jobs, mostly for women, directly reliant on the sector and services that contribute to our mental wellbeing and our satisfaction and happiness in communities across the UK. The UK Government has to recognise that these businesses do not just appear from nowhere – they need to start seriously thinking about supporting them through this pandemic so that the 370,000 jobs in this industry are still there for women after the pandemic and the services we all rely on and enjoy remain open for business.
I was also able to speak in a debate on the additional Covid-19 restriction and the lack of UK Government support for businesses under increased pressure in areas with stricter public health measures. We know our hospitality industry has taken a huge hit and that there is limited support from the UK Government in place, but what about the suppliers to that and other industries? Food and drink suppliers have seen up to 70% reduction in sales and yet they serve our schools, hospitals, prisons, and care homes, all of whom rely immensely on this service. Many of these companies have been incredible throughout the pandemic – wholesalers such as Bidfood in Swansea and Castell Howell in Llanelli were generous supporters of the Swansea Together project and have always been helpful with our constituency campaigns. The summer lunch clubs and Everyone Deserves a Christmas campaigns can only happen if we get support and donations so we need the government to help them now so that they are able to help us again the future.
I was also pleased to join in on a debate in Westminster Hall this week on historical discrimination in boxing. Racism and prejudice have no place in sport in our country and no place in our society. I was pleased to be able to be able to remember the Cardiff Bay Rugby Codebreakers and the ‘One Team – One Race’ project which will honour sports stars who battled racism and prejudice to play the game they loved. Racism in sport is a blight on the games we all love, but the shining stars who fight that racism ought to be commended for the tireless work that they do to improve race relations in sport. Instead of dropping out of the limelight, they carry on, and ensure that future generations have it that little bit easier. I am proud to support the ‘One Team – One Race’ project and to speak out against racism wherever it happens.
This week we marked the 54th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster. What happened in Aberfan was tragic and ultimately, avoidable. We will never forget those young children and their teachers who lost their lives, nor the people from all over the South Wales Valleys who rushed to join the rescue effort. We never want to see what happened in Aberfan happen again and must ensure that as flooding becomes a frequent occurrence here in South Wales those with the responsibility ensure the safety of the coal tips.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. As always, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com – my team and I are here to help. And remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!