2020 was an exceptionally difficult year and I think we’ve all run out of suitable adjectives to describe just how unprecedented, challenging, and disruptive it has been. I know we had all hoped for a different start to 2021, but at least there is the hope from the vaccine on the horizon. Until sufficient numbers have been vaccinated, however, this new, more virulent strain of the virus is putting all the work we’ve done to protect those most vulnerable at risk.
We must all now stay at home to try to slow the spread of the virus; that means, working from home where possible and only go out for essential reasons: to shop for basic necessities, to exercise, to seek or provide medical assistance, and to attend education for those eligible. Most children will now learn remotely until at least the 18th January, with the Welsh Government to review that as the time draws near.
University students who are able to study from home should do so and continue with their courses online until their universities indicate otherwise. For those studying practical courses, such as medicine and dentistry and social work, your universities will in touch with you regarding measures you will need to take.
You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are permitted to form one). In public settings, such as supermarkets, it is vital that you maintain a 2-metre distance, wear a face covering, and continue to wash your hands regularly.
We live in a beautiful part of the world, but when taking exercise, please do so close to your home and without driving outside your local area. Take quiet routes and continue to maintain social distancing when out exercising. However, with the stay-at-home guidance and the added stress that lockdowns bring, it is important that everyone ensures they do get exercise and fresh air to support their physical and their mental health.
I know there are concerns about access to hospitals and care for other conditions, but you can still leave your homes to access emergency help – our hospitals and GPs are still open to you, but in cases which are not life threatening, please call your GP or NHS 111 as a first point of call. Other conditions and illnesses have not disappeared during the pandemic, and it is important that your concerns are addressed.
For greater detail on the rules and exceptions, see the Welsh Government website.
I know many constituents have concerns about the impact of this latest lockdown on family finances and health; information on the support available for residents and businesses during this difficult time, from housing and rent advice to booking lateral flow tests, is available on the Swansea City Council website. Citizens Advice Cymru are still working remotely and are a vital source of support for those experiencing financial or employment difficulties and are available online at their website or on the phone at 0800 702 2020.
As always, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org - my team and I are here to help.