Dawn Bowden MS: “While the cautious approach continues, we can hopefully look forward to a better summer”
News, Opinion | Dawn Bowden | Published: 09:16, Friday July 10th, 2020.
Last updated: 09:16, Friday July 10th, 2020
Hoping for a better summer
As you will be aware, the First Minister of Wales has recently announced the lifting of some coronavirus restrictions in Wales. While the cautious approach continues and the decisions made are reflecting the scientific advice, we can hopefully look forward to a better summer with outdoor tourist attractions opening, pubs and restaurants with outdoor areas able to accept guests and some holiday accommodation becoming available.
The three week cycle of reviews will continue and let us hope the easing of restrictions can continue.
However, the virus has not gone away and what happens next will in large part depend on making sure we do not create situations in which the virus can pass from person to person. There are genuine concerns about a second spike in the virus so let us all play our part in minimising that risk.
The recent incident at KEPAK meat processing plant is an obvious concern to many but it has been reassuring to learn from Public Heath Wales that (as of July 8) they have not seen evidence of community infection spreading beyond those involved at the site.
We are all having to become familiar with the idea of testing, in identifying local clusters and then tracking and tracing possible cases, and how that differs from more widespread community transmission.
Thank you to local schools
It was great to see local schools providing opportunities for children to check in, catch up and prepare for next term. While attending school is currently a different experience due to the need for social distancing, I do support the great efforts being made to provide children with the chance to experience school again before the summer break.
In the latest announcement this week, we now know that the plan is to reopen schools as fully as possible in September. Extra teachers and support staff are being recruited to help with the task of restoring learning for our children. I have my fingers crossed that the virus continues to decline and parents and children have this opportunity in September.
Visit local sites
Of course we will all be thinking about how we can get out safely to enjoy some fresh air. There are a number of opportunities provided by our local councils and leisure trust and sites managed by Natural Resources Wales.
Throughout the recent months I have enjoyed really excellent communication with the leader and members of the local council. We have had at least weekly briefings so we can identify issues of local concern to help in making representations to ministers or action the council itself can take with other partners in, for example, the health board or the police. This use of technology is something I imagine will continue beyond this immediate period as it is an effective use of everyone’s time.
New units on the Lawns Industrial Estate
The county borough council is also the key partner in developing the new units at the Lawns Industrial Estate. This is another important investment in the economy of the Upper Rhymney Valley and I look forward to the units being occupied and helping support local jobs.
New plans for the constituency office
You may know that my constituency office, like other workplaces, has been closed in recent months due to the virus. The work of supporting constituents has of course continued and my caseworkers have dealt with many individual issues.
However, I am now making plans to lift the shutters and resume some limited activities from the office at 110 High Street, Merthyr Tydfil. It will be a different service over the summer and I will continue to prioritise my business by telephone, online systems (like Zoom or Teams) and only on rare occasions have socially distanced meetings where that is absolutely required. As an employer of staff I have the responsibility to keep them, and my constituents, as safe as possible.
I will be notifying people of dates and the arrangements on social media so keep an eye out.
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