It is important for everyone – individuals and businesses – to follow Welsh Government guidance on how to stay safe.
We are now seeing the emergence of the new Omicron variant with the accompanying uncertainty. This makes it more important than ever for us all to act in a responsible way that protects our local communities and the vulnerable people within them, and the NHS.
Although we all want the pandemic to end, Covid is undeniably still with us. Many families across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have already experienced - or are currently living through - the anguish of loved ones being seriously ill or having died with this virus. Others, of all ages, are suffering long-lasting impact on their own health following Covid infection.
In the last two weeks alone in Swansea Bay 10 people have died in our hospitals with Covid. Today, we have 35 Covid-positive patients in our hospital beds and five are seriously ill in intensive care.
Since the pandemic began, our staff have witnessed almost 1,000 patient deaths with Covid, and that figure does not include people who died outside of our hospitals. That is not only a tragedy for the families involved, but it has exacted a heavy physical and mental toll on our NHS staff, who are exhausted and yet still carrying on as best they can.
For businesses the rules are quite clear and there is a statutory duty of care towards customers and clients who might use business premises and also for staff.
I support enforcement action taken against any business that deliberately flouts the current regulations.
These regulations are not made lightly. They are put in place to protect the public and workers. They also allow business to continue to operate, but as safely as possible.
The regulations are based on Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advice that a number of different ‘low cost’ interventions all have a part to play in reducing risk, and that together these actions mitigate against the risk of tougher measures needing to be reintroduced later.
Included in the regulations is the need, for example, for premises to be properly risk-assessed so important safety issues like ventilation, social distancing, etc, can be considered and managed. Covid passes or negative lateral flow tests have another part to play in reducing the risk of further infections, particularly in premises regarded as higher risk. The passes are not the full answer, but they have a part to play.
Support and guidance on how businesses can implement reasonable control measures is available from the local authority, and is outlined in detail by the Welsh Government here: https://gov.wales/covid-pass-guidance-businesses-and-events-html .
Meanwhile, I continue to urge everyone to carry on taking sensible everyday actions to protect their own health, and those of others: