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Coronavirus: The Welsh region locking down despite few cases

The tourist season – or what there was of it this year – is all but over in the seaside resort of Tenby in west Wales.

But business owners say the fire-break lockdown which starts today will cut a vital financial lifeline by harming the chances of a last payout before winter during next week’s half term.

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Sarah Collins, who runs the seafood sandwich shack on the harbourside, said: “It’s usually quite a busy week – it’s the last busy week of the year.”

As a takeaway service, she’ll be able to stay open. But there’ll be no visitors to sell to.

“It will impact all businesses because there will be nobody here – so it’s just hoping the weather stays fine and that people who do live here come out and support local businesses,” she said.

Steven Lowe, who maintains fishing boats, has lived in Tenby all his life, said he isn’t convinced the new measures are necessary.

“I’d rather see a tiered system for this area, very low numbers here in Tenby.

“We were very, very busy here in the summer, the beaches were completely packed – a lot of people around and everyone thought that would bring the infection down here, but that doesn’t seem to have had an effect,” he added.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to avoid a national circuit breaker in England, for fear of disrupting already-damaged businesses, and favours regional lockdowns instead.

But Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has said the country needs a national effort and that “every contribution, however small, will make the difference”.

The Welsh government also warns that in rural areas where COVID-19 rates are lower, smaller hospital capacity could result in a disproportionate impact.

But in the week to 15 October, Pembrokeshire had a COVID-19 rate of 36.6 per 100,000, while Cardiff’s was 287.8 per 100,000.

Grace Heart, from the nearby town of Narbeth, said she had been buying enough food to last until lockdown was lifted.

She said: “I feel it’s better for me to stay in, that’s why I’ve been in and bought all my meat now so I haven’t got to come out for a fortnight. I’m going to feel safe.”

Max Lewis, a university student, is disappointed he won’t be able to see mates or go to the pub.

He said: “It’s frustrating. I’m a grad so it’s a frustrating time at the moment anyway. But it just means life is stopping again for another two or three weeks… if it is two weeks.”

Teagan Cartwright, who works behind the butcher’s counter, said: “I can see there’s obviously less cases down here, compared to the rest of Wales anyway.

“But we’ve also got smaller hospitals so you don’t want to put the strain on them as well, you know.”

The short, sharp shock – as the Welsh first minister described it – will last 17 days, ending on 9 November.

Many people fear it’ll last longer, something the Welsh government has insisted won’t happen.

But once it ends, ministers have said a new set of national rules will apply, rather than a return to the local lockdowns.

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