News in brief: Tories go on the offensive over changes to international travel rules
The Welsh Government has been accused of ‘grandstanding’ following the announcement of major changes to the rules on international travel which align with measure announced by the UK Government last week.
The new regulations will merge green and amber travel lists into one and remove the requirement for pre-departure testing for those fully vaccinated from 4 October.
The Welsh Government said it opposes Westminster’s decision on moving away from PCR tests and is calling on the UK Government to reverse it.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan, said Westminster’s decision to require PCR tests for returning travellers was “concerning” and described the tests as “a vital part of our surveillance for coronavirus and protects our borders from the virus.”
“We recognise the communication and enforcement challenges in having different testing requirements and continue to thoroughly examine the evidence for a Wales-only testing regime, but the strongest solution to protect public health is for the UK Government to reinstate UK-wide testings” she added.
Responding to the comments, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS accused the minister of being ‘petulant’ and blasted the Welsh Government for introducing its own measures in response to the Covid pandemic.
“To use an official statement to be so petulant is simply grandstanding. The decision to update the rules on international travel reflects the UK’s brilliant vaccine story as well as the desire for families to go on holiday more cheaply with greater certainty,” Mr George said.
“So, to see Labour’s health minister also have the audacity to complain about this change along the lines of having different rules across the UK being confusing and difficult to enforce when her government has spent 18 months revelling in such behaviour is disappointing to say the least.
“Sadly for the people of Wales, Labour don’t know if they’re coming or going with travel lists. The Welsh Government can’t permanently live in fear of another variant of Covid. Again, the Minister’s arbitrary rationale behind her decision-making would have the borders shut indefinitely.
“Today, Mark Drakeford will be telling Labour to look to Wales to see what Labour can do – if Starmer is looking for a lesson in how to whine rather than govern, then he couldn’t pick a better example.”
Minister confirms electronic prescribing plans for NHS Wales
The Welsh Government has confirmed electronic prescribing will be introduced across all healthcare settings in Wales within the next three to five years.
Announcing plans to introduce e-prescribing “throughout the lifecycle of a prescription”, Health Minister Eluned Morgan, said that paper prescriptions and ‘wet’ signatures will be replaced by electronic prescriptions and electronic signatures in primary care. In hospitals, an electronic platform for prescriptions will be introduced, alongside electronic drug charts.
Patients will be able to digitally order repeat prescriptions through an NHS Wales app, which will be “digitally inclusive” and complement, rather than replace, existing services.
The programme also includes development of a central medicines data repository, which will store details of e-prescriptions nationally across primary and secondary care.
The announcement follows a Welsh government independent review of e-prescribing in Wales, which was commissioned in 2020 and concluded in April this year.
Cheryl Way, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) Welsh Pharmacy Board, said the move was an “important development”, which will “drive up patient safety and put patients in greater control of their medication regimen”.
World Tourism Day marked by pledge to grow tourism for the good of Wales
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, has marked World Tourism Day by pledging to grow Welsh tourism in a way that supports Wales’ communities, land and people.
Today has been designated World Tourism Day by the World Tourism Organisation, with the focus of this year’s event on ‘tourism for inclusive growth’ and the WTO says it is an opportunity to celebrate tourism’s unique ability to ensure that nobody is left behind and look to the future.
“Our ambition is to grow tourism for the good of Wales, a tourism that supports our communities and cares for our land and that is mutually beneficial to visitors and citizens,” Mr Gething said.
“As a government we are taking bold action to build a stronger, fairer, greener Welsh economy, careful balance and responsible tourism, working with local communities and destination partners will be at the core of growing tourism for the good of Wales.
“The shared plan for the recovery of the visitor economy sets out how the challenges of the pandemic also present opportunities to tackle many of the long-standing barriers to the industry such as, seasonality, staff shortages and skills.”
The minister also revealed Visit Wales will soon be launching a new autumn and winter campaign to lure off-season tourists to Wales. The promotion aims to inspire visits for autumn, winter and into 2022 as well as establishing a new seasonal approach, presenting Wales as year-round destination with the goal of extending the tourism season and creating year-round jobs and economic growth.
New exhibition tells the story of the Windrush generation in Wales
A new exhibition charting the history of the Windrush generation in Wales opens at the St Fagans National Museum of History on 2 October.
In 1948, the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex carrying over 1,000 passengers from the Caribbean Islands who had responded to Britain’s call for post-war workers and over the next 40 years, thousands followed in their footsteps, with many making Wales their new home.
The history of the Windrush generation in Wales was recently the focus of an oral history project delivered by Race Council Cymru and funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and this new exhibition features the stories of those who travelled to Wales, the challenges they faced in building a new life, finding work and the attitudes of people towards them.
The Exhibition runs until 31 October and then will tour to:
National Waterfront Museum – 4 November 2021 to 2 January 2022
National Slate Museum – 8 January to 23 January 2022
National Wool Museum – 28 January to 14 February
Big Pit National Coal Museum – 19 February to 6 March 2022
Council decides against blanket ban on begging
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
Newport City Council has decided against imposing a blanket ban on begging, despite 78% of residents backing the plans during a public consultation.
The consultation received 108 responses, but councillors have argued this number is not a good enough representation of the people of Newport’s views.
Respondents were asked if they would prefer to remove current restrictions on begging and have a blanket ban.
One resident responding to the question said: “Ban begging entirely. No one is destitute. We have charities to help those in need and a benefits system. There is no need for anyone to beg in our city. It is undesirable.”
Another resident said: “Whilst some begging is polite, there is also demanding and recrimination if refused. The scale of begging is out out hand with multiple requests on a single journey up Commercial Street, Bridge Street and High Street. The aggression increases as the day goes on.”
One resident, who opposed the blanket ban, responded: “People politely sitting and asking for spare change, away from cash points, is in no way intimidating and should not necessarily be tidied away to make local Conservative councillors happy.”
Cllr Matthew Evans, leader of the council’s Conservative group, called for a blanket ban prior to the consultation.
He said begging was a “big issue” and something that deterred people from going in to Newport city centre.
In a Scrutiny Committee meeting on Thursday, Cllr Evans said: “The question is a bit ambiguous … but it is a significant number. If we have a consultation with people and we don’t listen, it does not look good.”
Newport City Council’s current Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) expired on August 23. This included a ban on aggressive begging and begging within ten metres of a cashpoint.
PSPOs are created to prevent antisocial behaviour in public spaces.
The new PSPO has now been approved by the council, with the decision to keep the current rules on begging part of this approval.