First Minister Mark Drakeford held the daily coronavirus briefing this afternoon, in which he unveiled a new coronavirus business support scheme.
The First Minister revealed that the Welsh Government will be providing extra support for new startup businesses, which have not been included in any financial schemes so far.
Mr Drakeford also discussed the three outbreaks in food factories across Wales, as well as a mass gathering at a beach in Ogmore, Vale of Glamorgan, which resulted in a brawl between dozens of people.
And the First Minister even hinted that he may be able to give a date for reopening pubs and bars in the country next week.
Here are the key points from today’s daily briefing.
Business support scheme
Mr Drakeford has revealed that the Welsh Government will be offering new support to businesses which have only opened recently, and have been affected by the coronavirus.
“Usually at these sessions I concentrate on the impact of coronavirus on public health,” Mr Drakeford said.
“Today I will focus on our economy, and the actions we have taken to support it.
“We are now beginning to understand how the impact has been on the first quarter of this year. There was a drop of 10% on the UK GDP.
“We have worked hard in Wales to prioritize our budgets to make sure that financial support is available to where it is needed most.
“Nearly a billion pounds has reached or been allocated to 65,000 firms”
“Over the last few months we have been able to provide the most comprehensive business package – particularly for small businesses. It goes above and beyond any other package in the UK.
“The grant part of our support will close on Tuesday 5pm, 30 June.
“Nearly a billion pounds has reached or been allocated to 65,000 firms, but there is more that we can and need to do.
“Today we are also launching a new strand of support: A new start up grant for recently established companies which have been affected by the pandemic
“The £5 million fund will provide up to £2,500 in grants to individual companies”
“The grant is aimed at startups, and it’s important because they have been excluded from the UK support scheme because they haven’t been trading long enough.
“The £5 million fund will provide up to £2,500 in grants to individual companies, from Monday lunchtime. But the eligibility checker is available now.
Three outbreaks in food factories across Wales
The First Minister also discussed the three different outbreaks in food factories across Wales.
The 2 Sisters chicken factory in Anglesey has been forced to close its doors after hundreds of cases have been confirmed within the workers there.
A second outbreak in the Rowan Foods factory in Wrexham has resulted in dozens of confirmed cases – this factory has not shut, however.
And the Kepak factory in Merthyr Tydfil has led to over thirty confirmed cases, although Mr Drakeford explained that unlike in the other two factories, these cases have been spread out over the last few months.
“In all three cases of outbreaks we have been monitoring closely,” Mr Drakeford explained.
“Our Test and Trace service continues to work to track anyone who has been in contact with anyone who has tested positive at any of these sites.
“The latest info is that there are now 204 confirmed cases at the 2 Sisters firm in Llangefni [in Anglesey]. The plant remains closed
“More than 500 tests at the factory have been carried out.
“There have been 166 cases in the Rowan food plant in Wrexham. 1000 have been tested to date.
“The plant remains operational.
Outbreak in Merthyr Tydfil
“And there have been 33 confirmed cases in Merthyr Tydfil, spread over several months,” the First Minister continued.
“The first case was at the start of May. There have been five since the start of June.
“This incident is of a different scale to the cases in north Wales.
“We will publish guidance for meat production firms.
“The outbreaks are a sobering reminder that coronavirus has not gone away. It is still here with us in Wales.”
Ugly scenes at Ogmore beach
Scenes from Ogmore Beach in the Vale of Glamorgan emerged on social media yesterday showing a mass brawl.
Dozens of people can be seen fighting as hundreds attended the beach on the hottest day of the year so far.
Footage on twitter shows the ugly scenes as the topless hooligans scrap with each other. It is unclear why they are fighting.
Scenes in Ogmore, South Wales yesterday 🤷🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/TDtyE8mTV5
— The Exiled Robin (@TheExiledRobin) June 26, 2020
“It is very important not to portray a single incident as typical as to what’s happening across Wales”
Mr Drakeford explained that while he would not take action over one single incident, should scenes such as these continue to appear, he would be forced to potentially impose further lockdown measures.
“I’m very alert to the point that we must not allow the ugly actions of a relatively small group to cast a shadow over the much greater effort that everyone else in Wales has shown,” Mr Drakeford said.
“It is just as important to send a message that if we were to see scenes like that last night to continue to happen then that would inevitably have an impact on our ability to lift restrictions.
“Last night’s pictures are a reminder of what happens when things go wrong.
“It is very important not to portray a single incident as typical as to what’s happening across Wales. It certainly wasn’t the wider picture.”
First Minister “hopeful” to announce lockdown bubble plan
The leader of the Senedd also confirmed that he was optimistic that he would be able to announce a social bubble lockdown easement as early as at the start of next week.
The First Minister said that while nothing was confirmed as of today, it seemed likely that he would be able to announce it during next week’s daily briefings.
“Extended talks on whether two households can come together for practical reasons,” Mr Drakeford continued.
“I hope to make the announcement next week.
“Conversations are not concluded. But I am optimistic that by the start of next week we will be ready to announce [the social bubble easment].
When will the pubs and restaurants in Wales reopen?
Mr Drakeford also hinted about providing a date for announcing that the hospitality sector will reopen in Wales.
Pubs and restaurants will reopen in England on July 4, with many restrictions in place.
Customers will have to abide by the 1 metre plus rule, and will be served via table service instead of queuing at the bar.
And today, Mr Drakeford said that he may be able to give a date for Welsh pubs and restaurants reopening next week.
“We have had discussions with the sector this week (on hospitality),” Mr Drakeford said.
“There are possibilities to reopen outdoor hospitalities.
I hope to be able to come to a conclusion next week”
“It is very important that if we are to reopen that sector, it is done in a way that is careful, safe, and with the support of the Chief Medical Officer.
“We have a major meeting later today, and I hope to be able to come to a conclusion next week.”
But the First Minister also said that other sectors within the hospitality industry would certainly not be reopening any time soon.
“Mass gatherings will not be able to reopen by the end of August,” Mr Drakeford continued. “We will have to see what happens in autumn.”
As for whether mass gatherings will have to wait until 2021 before returning, the First Minister explained that while he hoped this would not be the case, should a second wave of coronavirus hit Wales in the Autumn, when conditions are colder and damper, then any mass gatherings may indeed have to be postponed until next year.