Over a quarter of our Pembrokeshire residents are over 65 and that statistic has made the job of vaccinating this rural county a stupendous achievement. Hywel Dda have promised that all 9 of the top priority groups will be vaccinated by mid-April. Only a little bit behind the original date but something we can live with, I’m sure.
Fabulous, but of course, that’s not quite fast enough for the Easter holidays. The weather is turning, secondary schools are beginning the process of reintroducing kids back into class and the hospitality industry is desperate to have clarity on dates. Holiday bookings went absolutely barmy as the date 12th April was announced for England. I, for one, was SO relieved that Matt Hancock’s holiday booking in Cornwall will be OK this summer!
I’m not sure that the hospitality industry can survive for much longer with the lack of clarity that they are being given from the current Senedd Labour leadership. Tourism businesses desperately need to make up for their losses sustained over the last year and need planning time to get back up to speed. Most are preparing as if the date will be the same as England and the backlash may be horrendous if the opening is not on this date or, preferably, sooner. Some may wish to question the Welsh road map that prioritises ‘non-essential shops’ over ‘limited re-opening of tourism’ with approximately 22% of employee jobs (2019) wrapped up in the hospitality and tourism sector. Perhaps we should prioritise this group. Could we continue to shop online for a little while longer or could we do both steps at Easter? This debate at the Senedd needs to allow voices from these crucial industries to be heard.
So, what can we all do to support our crucial Pembrokeshire economy if the stay-at-home rules are relaxed in time for the Welsh Easter holidays and self-catering holiday cottages are able to be booked after having vaccinated all the over 55’s?
Well, perhaps we could volunteer to clean all the locked toilet blocks so that all those exercising people don’t have to try to find a convenient tree to hide behind. There will be children out on the beaches in the holidays and stressed-out parents trying desperately to work out what they’re going to do in the 5 seconds before an accident happens. Haven’t we given parents enough to cope with this past 12 months – don’t parents deserve a break?
Perhaps we could pick up rubbish that seems to have accumulated in the verges of all the main roads and on our beautiful coastal path before it causes hurt to either children or animals. Just take a bag and pick up (using gloves) all the plastic bottles and cans thrown carelessly away. Our Council workers have been coping with such a range of issues this year, not least the latest flooding incidents. Perhaps a helping hand would go a bit of the way to thanking them too for their work.
Best foot forward, Pembrokeshire and let the good times roll.