PLACES like Swansea are being disproportionately affected by local coronavirus lockdowns, according to the leader of the council.
Cllr Rob Stewart said Swansea drew in shoppers from outside the area, and that he knew of businesses in the city whose income was 40% down.
“That should automatically trigger help from the Welsh Government,” he said.
“Cities are disproportionately hit.”
The county of Swansea is one of many council areas in Wales which is subject to stricter restrictions.
The latest infection rate for the county is 137.3 per 100,000 population, although one reason for this is virus testing has increased.
The overall infection rate in Wales is 102.9 cases per 100,000 based on a seven-day average – the first time it has passed 100.
The stricter measures in Swansea came into force on September 27 after the infection rate climbed above 50 per 100,000 population.
They will be reviewed after two weeks and every week thereafter if the restrictions remain in place for longer.
Cllr Stewart said discussions were ongoing with the Welsh Government about the practicalities of exiting from the measures – not that this is set to happen in short order.
“Unfortunately our figures are over 100,” he said. “We are still way higher than we were. We need to bring that figure down below 50.”
But even if a council suppressed infection levels enough to qualify it for a lifting of the stricter measures, a dilemma would remain about whether residents ought to travel to a neighbouring authority where those stricter measures were still in force.
“A simple set of clear rules for a relatively large geographical area, like South Wales, is sensible,” said Cllr Stewart.
He said representatives from the council and Swansea Bay University Health Board would be part of the review of measures, along with the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales.
Cllr Stewart said he hadn’t seen any direct evidence that the return of students to Swansea had played a part in rising infection levels, although he said there had been some “cluster outbreaks”.
“We have not seen students as ‘super-spreaders’,” he said.
Fifteen of Wales 22 council areas are subject to stricter measures, as of October 9.
Carmarthenshire is not one of them, but much of Llanelli is.
The good news is that infection rates in Llanelli’s so-called health protection zone have come down from 152 per 100,000 population to 99.9. The situation is being reviewed weekly.
Carmarthenshire Council leader Emlyn Dole said: “We are grateful to the people of Llanelli for everything they are doing to help keep Covid-19 cases under control.
“It doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet but we’re hopeful that the extra measures being taken by people living in the health protection zone will continue to make a big difference.”
He added: “If the rate of infection continues to fall, we may be able to lift these extra measures placed on the people of Llanelli. If they don’t, or if cases continue to rise in other parts of the county, we may have to make decisions that affect more people.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said a range of issues are considered when deciding if a council can exit restrictions, not solely the infection rate.
“The restrictions will be in place until the risk of the spread of coronavirus has reduced, when they can be relaxed, based on public health and scientific advice,” he said.
And asked if further restrictions were being considered for Swansea, the spokesman said: “We keep the need for any further restrictions under constant review.”