This week, the Coronavirus Alert Level in Wales was downgraded to 2 and restrictions were loosened. Indoor hospitality has reopened with up to 6 people (from 6 different households) now able to book a table together. Holiday accommodation is now also able to fully reopen, along with entertainment venues and indoor visitor attractions, including cinemas, bowling alleys, theatres, and museums and galleries. Up to 30 people can take part in organised indoor activities and up to 50 people in outdoor activities.
I know how much we have all been looking forward to the easing of restrictions, and spending time with friends and family after such a long and difficult year. But we must still be cautious. We cannot throw away all the sacrifices we’ve made and all the work we’ve done to get us here. Please continue to social distance, wash your hands regularly, and wear a mask on public transport and in public places such as supermarkets. The vaccine programme in Wales is going tremendously well – thank you so much to all our hardworking vaccinators! – so I hope it will not be too long until we can remove all restrictions.
As of 12 May, 241,190 people in the Swansea Bay area had received their first dose of the vaccine, with 99,635 having had their second. This is a phenomenal achievement. If you are aged 30 and above and have not been called for your appointment, or declined an appointment but have now changed your mind, you can join the reserve list to have the chance of being offered an appointment at short term earlier than you would otherwise be called. There have been some reports of scam vaccination calls so remember! The NHS will NEVER ask you for personal details such as your bank account information so never give this information out.
I was pleased to contribute the Foreword to the Centre for Social Justice’s report published this week: Not a Game: A call for effective protection from the harms of gambling. We have long been calling for truly independent and effective affordability checks for online gamblers. Our analogue legislation is simply not fit for our digital era and we are failing to protect a whole generation and their families against the pernicious effects of problem gambling exacerbated by a predatory and unregulated industry. Throughout my time as the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm I have heard heart-breaking stories from problem gamblers and their families on the damage that has been done. This report from the CSJ highlights the data that shows we need change and we need it now. We do not want to spoil people’s fun and I’m happy for those who can gamble responsibly to continue to enjoy their hobby. However, for those who cannot but who are encouraged to continue gambling beyond their means, we hope to offer protection and compassion and deliver the change that is sorely needed.
Continuing on the topic of gambling related harm, I was pleased to talk to our Northern Ireland counterparts in the Northern Ireland All-Party Group on Gambling Harm this week about how regulation and legislation works in Great Britain and what lessons are to be learnt for the development of regulation in Northern Ireland. It’s clear that we share many of the same concerns and aims, we do not want to destroy the industry; we simply want it to behave responsibly and not cause harm to problem gamblers who are encouraged to gamble with abandon.
I am pleased to support the #OhHelloBeauty campaign by the British Beauty Council to encourage people to support our vital beauty industry as restrictions ease. More than 7,000 salons in the UK have gone out of business since March last year and there are fears that many more businesses will suffer that same fate in the coming months ahead. While salons have reopened, they continue to struggle due to Covid restrictions limiting capacity and increasing cleaning costs. We have heard time and time again how important the beauty industry is to the UK economy – they are a huge net contributor, greater even than that great British institution the pub – and employ 600,000 people, most of them women. You can support the beauty industry by visiting your local salon for your favourite treatment and by supporting the campaign – media and poster assets can be found here.
I am thrilled to have been selected to put forward a Private Members’ Bill during this parliamentary session. The ballot took place on Thursday this week and I was selected for the number 3 spot. I have yet to decide on the specifics of the Bill I present but am looking forward to working to develop a Bill – if you have any ideas or suggestions for what I should be focussing on then please do get in touch!
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 – stay home, observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!