News Bulletin: First Minister - “Stay home to save lives”; ERF Sector Specific Grant; Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; Request for Accommodation and other news

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8 January 2021


First Minister: “Stay home to save lives”

First Minister Mark Drakeford today said everyone must stay at home to save lives as he confirmed the alert level four coronavirus restrictions in Wales will continue.

The lockdown restrictions will be strengthened in some key areas to prevent the new, highly-infectious strain of the virus spreading from person to person in those shops and workplaces which remain open.

And unless there is a significant reduction in cases of coronavirus before 29 January – the date of the next three-week review of the regulations – school and college students will continue to learn online until the February half term.

Cases of coronavirus remain very high in Wales and the new variant strain of the virus – first identified in parts of Wales, London and South East England before Christmas – now has a firm foothold in North Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has reached a significant point. Cases in Wales remain very high and our NHS is under real and sustained pressure.

“The alert level four restrictions we introduced before Christmas must remain in place to keep us all safe. To slow the spread of the virus, we all must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

“These feel like dark times but the new Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out across Wales, giving us a path out of this pandemic.

“It will take a huge effort to vaccinate everyone and, despite the end of this pandemic being in sight, it is more important than ever that we follow the rules and stay at home. We have made so many sacrifices together and we mustn’t stop now.”

Following a formal review of the alert level four lockdown restrictions, which were introduced at midnight on 19 December, all the measures will remain in place.

This means non-essential retail, hospitality venues, licensed premises and leisure facilities will remain closed.

The measures will be strengthened to close all showrooms. They will still be able to operate click and collect arrangements.

The Welsh Government is also reviewing whether major supermarkets and retailers need to put additional measures in place to protect people in store and what else employers need to do to protect people in the workplace and support people to work from home.

The First Minister is reminding people that in the current lockdown people must:

  • Stay at home.
  • Work from home if you can.
  • Keep a 2m distance from others.
  • Wear a face covering in all indoor public places.
  • Not meet anyone outside your immediate household or support bubble.

The First Minister added:

“This new strain adds a new and unwelcome dimension to the pandemic.

“Wherever there’s mixing; wherever people come together, the new strain is spreading – it is highly transmissible and spreads very quickly from person to person.

“We all must stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives. Together, we will keep Wales safe.”

Alert Level 4 -  Find out what you need to do at alert level 4 and take a look at the further information on seeing other people, business closures and visiting people in private homes and Frequently Asked Questions on Alert Level 4.

Coronavirus Control Plan: Alert Levels in Wales - A full guide to restrictions and a simple guide to the new coronavirus alert level system is also available online.

ERF Sector Specific Grant

The Sector Specific Grant applications will open in the week commencing 11 January 2021 and remain open for 2 weeks or until funds are fully committed.

This grant is to support businesses impacted by the restrictions introduced on 4 December 2020.

The Eligibility Checker is available to review the criteria prior to its opening.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Your Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) claims for periods in December must be made by 14 January 2021.

Further details and dates to help you plan ahead to meet the monthly deadlines can be found on the Business Wales website.

Request for Accommodation

Gwynedd Council is asking for help in providing temporary accommodation for people facing homelessness. The Covid pandemic has led to a significant increase in the number of people in Gwynedd facing homelessness.

Accommodation costs will be paid directly by Gwynedd Council, and the Council will also provide support to the individuals. If anyone would like to help, or would like more information, please call 01286 682785 or e-mail


The UK has left the EU

The UK left the EU on 31 December 2020. The rules governing the new relationship between the EU and UK took effect on 1 January 2021. There are changes to the way UK businesses trade with the EU that may impact your business.

HMRC has live webinars which provide an overview for UK businesses involved in the movement of goods between the EU and the UK.

For further information on how to prepare your business for the new rules between the UK and the EU please visit the Business Wales EU Transition Portal.

National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates for 2021

The UK Government has announced the rise in the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage from April 2021.

For the first time, more younger people will be eligible for the National Living Wage, as the age threshold will be lowered from 25 to 23.

New data sharing code of practice

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have published a new data sharing code of practice, which provides clear guidance for organisations and businesses on how to share data lawfully. Find out more on the Business Wales website.

Self-Assessment deadline

The Self-Assessment deadline is on 31 January 2021. Customers can complete their tax returns online ahead of the deadline at a time that suits them. 

Useful COVID-19 information

As each premises is different, businesses should read all guidance. This continues to be updated so please check back regularly for the latest information.

Stay up to date with tourism industry news

We are committed to providing the support and assurance the business community needs during these unprecedented difficult times and have issued several Coronavirus (COVID-19) related bulletins which can be found on the Tourism Industry Coronavirus (COVID-19) Bulletins page. 

Business Wales is providing businesses with tailored support and advice about dealing with coronavirus, from financial and supply chain planning to advice on staffing issues. We would advise Tourism businesses and stakeholders in Wales wanting specific guidance to visit the Business Wales website or call Business Wales helpline on 03000 6 03000, and to regularly visit the Public Health Wales website for up-to-date public health information for you, your staff and your visitors.