Here are the coronavirus morning headlines for Thursday, January 28, as a travel body says it is “crucial” that tourism in Wales re-opens by Easter.
North Wales Tourism chief executive Jim Jones has warned that many businesses had already “gone under”, and that others were “teetering on the edge of failure”.
“If we don’t get the opportunity to open by Easter it means a lot more loss of jobs, loss of business and also the economy is going to be so hard hit it’s going to take a long, long time to recover,” he told BBC Wales.
“So, it’s crucial we get the opportunity to open this Easter.”
He said the industry was down £2.17bn on revenues of £3.6bn in 2019.
The Welsh Government said it was “committed to doing all we can to protect businesses during this very challenging time”.
Customers seen fleeing hair salon raided by police
A salon owner that opened during lockdown and several customers who went there have been fined for breaching coronavirus regulations.
Officers went to the salon, in Glyndwr Road, and saw people going in through the front door.
They didn’t respond to requests made by the officers to open the door.
After gaining entry, police found evidence which showed that tanning beds had recently been used and beauty treatments had been taking place.
CCTV footage captured eight people running away from the salon after leaving through the fire exit.
The business owner has been handed a £1,000 fixed penalty notice for failing to close the premises despite the current Welsh Government restrictions in place.
Call for a vaccine passport scheme
Former prime minister Tony Blair has called on Boris Johnson to use the G7 to push a global coronavirus vaccine passport scheme.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove said on December 1 that there were no plans for a passport for those who have been vaccinated, though the Telegraph reported on Sunday the Government is funding at least eight separate firms to develop such a product, which is already in use in countries in the Middle East and Asia.
Mr Blair said the UK needed to take advantage of its presidency of the G7, which aims to meet in Cornwall in June, to lead the drive for a global vaccination passport to allow borders to reopen safely and travel to resume.
He told the Telegraph on Thursday there were two significant risks if Mr Johnson did not convince his fellow leaders to back such a scheme.
“One is that everyone just does their own thing, which is much more chaotic and difficult to manage. Or secondly, there’s a set of rules in place that you may not be that happy with.”
Zurab Pololikashvili, the UN World Tourism Organisation’s secretary-general, last week told the Global Tourism Crisis Committee in Madrid: “Vaccines must be part of a wider, coordinated approach that includes certificates and passes for safe cross-border travel”.
The leaders of Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta have called for the introduction of certificates which designate if a traveller has been vaccinated or not.
On Monday, Australia’s education minister, Alan Tudge, said planned “digital vaccine certificates” would allow international students to return to study in the country without the need for them to hotel quarantine.
New quarantine rules announced
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel have also set out plans for tougher controls on international travel to reduce the risk of importing mutant strains.
The measures include a 10-day quarantine in hotel for travellers from 30 high-risk countries which are currently subject to travel bans, including South Africa, Portugal and many South American nations.
Similar measures are expected across the UK, although Wales an Scotland have both indicated they could go further than Mr Johnson’s plan for England.
People wishing to travel abroad will also be required to make a declaration stating why they need to make the journey, which will be checked by carriers prior to departure.
Latest infection rates for Wales
Another 49 people have died with coronavirus in Wales but the number of daily positive cases is continuing to fall.
Latest figures from Public Health Wales published yesterday (Wednesday, January 27) show 537 new cases of the virus have been recorded as cases continue to fall. It brings the total since the pandemic began to 189,689. It’s the lowest daily figure since November 10.
Following the latest figures, the Wales infection rate is now down to 204 cases per 100,000 people based on the seven days up to January 22. That is a decrease on the 218.6 previously reported. When you are likely to get the vaccine here.
Moving below a level of 300 cases for every 100,000 and remaining there over a sustained period is one of the key benchmarks for moving out of alert level four lockdown. The Welsh Government press conference heard on Wednesday that the R number is also now below 1 – at between 0.7 and 0.9. Cases for your area here.
March date earmarked for England schools re-opening
Boris Johnson earmarked March 8 as the date to begin the re-opening of England’s schools.
The March re-opening target is based on progress in vaccinating the most vulnerable groups in society by mid-February and then giving the jab time to take effect.
More details on the latest review of restrictions in Wales are expected to be announced tomorrow (Friday, January 29), although it has been warned there will not be any significant changes. Wales’ top doctor sets out three tests for relaxing restrictions.
After Boris Johnson’s announcement, unions claimed there are “too many unknowns, such as the effectiveness of the vaccine and the pace at which infections are falling” to set a March 8 deadline.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “If we come out too early, we will end up in lockdown again.
“We all want schools to open, but like the Prime Minister we want them to open when it is safe to do so. This has to be done sustainably and safely.”
First Minister questions PM’s visit to Scotland
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to visit Scotland today (Thursday, January 28) despite the country’s first minister questioning whether the trip is necessary.
Mr Johnson is expected to emphasise the strength of the UK working together in the fight against Covid-19.
He is also likely to thank staff involved in responding to the pandemic.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has questioned whether his trip is “essential”.
Asked at her daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday how she felt about the expected visit while strict travel restrictions were in place, Ms Sturgeon replied she was “not ecstatic” about it.
She argued that leaders should abide by the same rules they impose on the general public, adding that she had herself rejected a suggested visit to a vaccine centre in Aberdeen for this reason.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk