January 21, 2021

Wales News Online

Local and National news for Wales

A less restrictive Christmas if everyone pulls together for Covid “fire break” is message from council leader

CHRISTMAS should be less restrictive if everyone pulls together for the Covid “fire break” than would otherwise have been the case, the leader of Swansea Council has said.

Cllr Rob Stewart said he supported the Welsh Government’s October 23 to November 9 lockdown, saying that early and decisive action worked.

The Swansea Labour Leader said council leaders had an opportunity to raise concerns and ask questions of the Welsh Government ahead of today’s decision.

Cllr Stewart, who is also the economy spokesman for the Welsh Local Government Association, which represents the country’s 22 councils, said: “I have also been involved in trying to make sure we get the package of support right.

“I think the Welsh Government has put in place a really strong package.”

Ministers will provide almost £300 million to support business during the fire break.

Cllr Stewart said there was flexibility for councils to use their own discretion – for example helping market traders and other businesses which operated from premises they didn’t own and which therefore had missed out on a previous UK Government support fund.

He said: “The Welsh Government has been very constructive.”

Cllr Stewart said the hoped-for benefits of the fire break would not be apparent immediately but would, if all goes to plan, help NHS Wales look after Covid patients, deal with normal winter pressures, and address the backlog of patients who needed planned treatment and operations.

“It is going to help us later in the year,” he said.

“And the big pay-off is a less restrictive Christmas than we would have otherwise.”

Cllr Stewart didn’t want to be drawn into a blame game about why cases have risen so steeply in recent weeks.

He said increasing numbers were expected once the economy and schools began to reopen.

There were some people, he said, who had not adhered to the restrictions.

“Most people are following the rules,” he said.

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