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The state’s health department in a statement on Sunday said two passengers arriving from southern Africa over the weekend had tested positive for the new variant of the novel coronavirus, that causes the Covid-19 disease.
Health officials said both passengers had travelled to Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday.
Both were tested on the evening of the same day, after which results late at night showed both were positive, said officials.
The health officials said both the passengers are fully vaccinated and are asymptomatic. They have been put in isolation at a special health accommodation, according to the statement issued by NSW government.
The two were on board Qatar Airways flight QR908 from Doha that had landed in Sydney Airport on 7pm (local time) on Saturday. The two were among 14 passengers who were coming from southern Africa.
The other 12 passengers were sent for a 14-day hotel quarantine, while around 260 other passengers and crew, considered close contacts, have been directed by health officials to isolate.
“It is an offence not to comply with a Public Health Order and penalties can apply. Close contacts will be contacted regularly, and compliance checks will be undertaken,” the NSW government said in its statement.
The NSW government’s statement also said that “all travellers who have been in any other overseas country during the 14-day period before their arrival in NSW must travel directly to their place of residence or accommodation and isolate for 72 hours, pending further health advice.”
It further said that “all flight crew who have been overseas during the 14-day period before their arrival in NSW must travel directly to their place of residence or accommodation and isolate for 14 days or until their departure on another flight that leaves Australia, consistent with the current rules for the unvaccinated flight crew.”
The cases of the new variant have come just hours after Greg Hunt, Australia’s federal health minister, announced a two-week ban on non-citizens arriving from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique.
Australia now joins an increasing number of countries, including the UK, Germany and Italy, in having detected the new Omicron coronavirus variant over the weekend.
Several countries have restricted or banned travel from southern Africa and neighbouring countries.
Thailand and Sri Lanka have banned arrivals from a number of African countries.
New Zealand’s Covid response minister Chris Hipkins said only New Zealand citizens will be allowed to travel into the country from the nine southern African nations.
He said in a statement that citizens will be required to stay isolated for two weeks and undergo regular testing.
The World Health Organisation said on Friday that the variant is believed to be more infectious than all previous strains and labeled it as a variant of concern.
Australia has reported about 205,000 Covid cases and 1,985 deaths from the disease.
MELBOURNE, Nov 28 (Reuters) – Health officials in Australia’s most populous state confirmed on Sunday that two arrivals from southern Africa over the weekend had tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant.
The New South Wales health department said both passengers had come to Sydney on Saturday evening and had tested positive for COVID-19 late that night.
Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by William Mallard
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Testing for arrivals to UK ‘huge blow’ to travel industry South Wales Argus
The introduction of compulsory PCR tests for Covid-19 for everyone arriving in the UK has been described as a “huge blow” for the travel industry.
The move, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday, has been welcomed by scientists as a way of buying time to learn more about the Omicron variant.
There are now 10 countries on the Government red list for travel, which means arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia will have to quarantine for 10 days.
But Abta, a trade association for tour operators and travel agents in the UK, said the added cost of testing for all arrivals to the UK will have an impact on customer demand for holidays, adding pressure to an industry which has been among the “hardest hit” during the pandemic.
The announcement of the new testing requirement came after two cases of the Omicron variant were confirmed in the UK.
Without a negative result, people will have to self-isolate for 10 days.
“While Abta understands that this is a rapidly evolving situation and public health must come first, the decision to require all arrivals to take a PCR test and self-isolate until a negative result is returned is a huge blow for travel businesses, many of whom were only just starting to get back on their feet after 20 months of severe restrictions,” an Abta spokesman said.
“These changes will add cost to people’s holidays, which will undoubtedly impact consumer demand and hold back the industry’s recovery, so it’s vital that this decision is kept under careful review and restrictions are lifted promptly if it becomes clear there is not a risk to the UK vaccination programme.
“The Government must also now consider offering tailored support for travel businesses, which have been amongst the hardest hit during the pandemic.”
Scientists believe increased testing will give time to better understand the risk Omicron might pose before the variant becomes more widespread in the UK.
Dr Nathalie MacDermott, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) academic clinical lecturer at King’s College London, said: “The action to ban flights from the most affected countries is never a decision that should be taken lightly.
“But for a brief period it can buy the time needed to better understand the threat posed by this new variant and ensure the implementation of more robust identification and targeted contact tracing for individuals arriving from those countries now placed on the red list.
“The decision by the Government to re-implement the need for a PCR test from all individuals arriving in the UK from abroad on day two, with self-isolation until a negative test is reported, while frustrating for those travelling, is essential in order to rapidly identify cases of infection with the Omicron variant and implement prompt isolation and targeted contact tracing to limit the spread of the variant in the UK.”
Concerns have also been voiced about whether the testing industry can meet a sudden rise in testing demand.
Which? travel editor Rory Boland said travellers will understand the need for restrictions, but the private testing industry which they will have to rely on “isn’t fit for purpose”.
“Testing firms have struggled to provide tests on time over the past year, so it is hard to have confidence they will be able to cope with this spike in demand at short notice,” he said.
“Now that the Government has taken the decision to make PCR tests mandatory, it must take steps to properly regulate the marketplace and implement the CMA’s (Competition and Markets Authority) recommendations so that consumers can have confidence they are booking with a provider they can rely on.”
Coronavirus cases in schools and FE colleges are falling in every health board area across Wales.
Latest Public Health Wales figures out on Friday show that 2,687 new Covid cases were reported in schools in the six days to November 24 compared with 3,605 the week before and 3,363 the week before that.
A further 190 cases were reported in FE colleges, 28 fewer than the week before. As with last week most of the schools cases were in primaries.
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Just two of Wales’ 22 councils, Torfaen and Anglesey , reported a rise in Covid cases in their schools – all other 20 saw cases fall.
Cardiff , Wales’ largest education authority, reported the most schools cases with 255, a fall on 399 the previous week.
Rhondda Cynon Taf was second highest with 226 but that was 96 fewer than the week before.
Ceredigion had the least schools cases reporting just 28.
In the six days to November 24 1,660 Covid cases were reported in primary schools down on 2,255 the previous week.
In the same period secondaries reported 770 cases, down from 1,026.
A total 257 Covid cases were reported in “other schools”, which includes independent, special and middle schools and pupil referral units. That was a fall of 67 on the previous before.
Reporting the figures, PHW said cases were highest among those aged five to 11.
Aneurin Bevan UHB
Blaenau Gwent 42 (-11)
Caerphilly 107 (-15)
Monmouthshire 119 (-65)
Newport 128 (-62)
Torfaen 69 (+9)
Total: 465 (-122)
Betsi Cadwaladr UHB
Anglesey 75 (+17)
Conwy 81 (-36)
Denbighshire 79 (-30)
Flintshire 120 (-31)
Gwynedd 196 (-79)
Wrexham 115 (-48)
Total 666 (-207)
Cardiff and Vale UHB
Cardiff 255 (-144)
Vale of Glamorgan 123 (-30)
Total 378 (-174)
Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB
Bridgend 128 (-48)
Merthyr Tydfil 84 (-1)
Rhondda Cynon Taf 226 (-96)
Total 438 (-145)
Hywel Dda UHB
Carmarthenshire 172 (-40)
Ceredigion 28 (-22)
Pembrokeshire 96 (-29)
Total 296 (191)
Powys Teaching Board
Total 166 (-48)
Swansea Bay UHB
Neath Port Talbot 114 (-43)
Swansea 164 (-88)
Total 278 (-131)
All Wales total 2,687 (-918)
At the same time there has been a slight fall in attendance. According to separate Welsh Government figures:
Aneurin Bevan UHB
Blaenau Gwent 10 (+7)
Caerphilly 15 (-4)
Monmouthshire 2 (-3)
Newport 8 (-2)
Torfaen 0 (-1)
Betsi Cadwaladr UHB
Anglesey 1 (-2)
Conwy 7 (-15)
Denbighshire 2 (-1)
Flintshire 4 (-5)
Gwynedd 14 (+2)
Wrexham 2 (-24)
Cardiff and Vale UHB
Cardiff 26 (-7)
Vale of Glamorgan 2 (-4)
Cwm Taf UHB
Bridgend 16 (+10)
Merthyr Tydfil 9 (+2)
Rhondda Cynon Taf 13 (-5)
Hywel Dda UHB
Carmarthenshire 3 (-8)
Ceredigion 0 (equal)
Pembrokeshire 8 (-2)
Powys Teaching HB 1 (-2)
Swansea Bay UHB
Neath Port Talbot 28 (-7)
Swansea 19 (-20)
Total FE 190 (-28)
Since September 2020 there have been 59,720 reports of new Covid cases across 1,519 schools in Wales; 12,844 cases in staff and 46,876 in pupils. From a total of 1,573 schools this represents 96.6 % of schools that have had a Covid-19 case. A total 37 schools have only had one case since the pandemic began.
Releasing the data, PHW repeated that there may be a lag in results and that cases reported in schools and colleges don’t mean infection necessarily happened there.
“Linkage between a case and a school does not mean that the cases were in school at the date of the test, nor that transmission occurred in school,” the report said.
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Jananie Janarthana says Australia needs to have a conversation about who gets elected to political office.
That’s one of the reasons the 27-year-old is running in the New South Wales local elections next weekend for a seat in the City of Ryde.
“This area means so much to me and I’ve been such a beneficiary of it, and I want to pay that forward for future generations,” Ms Janarthana said.
“My grandparents migrated from Sri Lanka, first to England but then to Australia, and they actually moved to Eastwood.”
She said the major parties — including her own party, Labor — have a long way to go with representation.
“We are falling behind in so many ways at a basic level — the Labor Party doesn’t gather any data on our members, on how they identify culturally, and you can’t do anything like quotas without data.”
If elected, Ms Janarthana wants to collaborate with state and federal governments to develop affordable social housing in Ryde Council and work with students and young people to improve civic education.
Ms Janarthana, currently a senior project officer at the Sydney Policy Lab, thinks a lot can be achieved on big issues like climate change at the local level — for example by building electric car stations to encourage uptake.
“I do think there’s an importance of having people who are interested in big macro change at a local governance level.”
Ms Janarthana is being supported by Run For It, a volunteer grassroots organisation trying to change the political landscape by supporting and training young, diverse candidates.
Edward Krutsch, Run For It’s 21-year-old national director, said he started the organisation because politicians were not acting on issues young people were speaking about.
For Run For It to support a candidate, they need to align with the organisation’s mission to champion causes young people care about.
“We have three core policy-style values: climate justice, economic justice and social justice,” Mr Krutsch said.
Run For It is supporting 18 candidates during this year’s election across several parties including Labor, the Greens, Animal Justice Party and Clover Moore’s Independent Team.
Mr Krutsch said candidates his organisation supported in the Victorian local election last year had often been dissuaded from running for office.
“We had candidates who had people say things like they were too young and they needed to wait their turn,” he said.
Research released by the Sydney Policy Lab in September showed younger people who grew up with a first language other than English were the most civically engaged of any demographic.
But this engagement does not translate to getting elected.
Research by the New South Wales government found people aged between 18 and 30 are the most under-represented in local government, making up 16 per cent of the population but only 4 per cent of councillors.
Furthermore, 27 per cent of households speak a language other than English, but only 8 per cent of councillors have a first language other than English.
Mr Krutsch has tracked diversity in politics, too, and said the current statistics were a big issue.
“There are quite a number of councils that are entirely just older white men,” he said.
Karen Wright, a 28-year-old single mother with two kids, is running as an independent in the Bega Valley to pave the way for people like her in the future.
“When I look at the current makeup of councillors, there’s no young women, there’s no people of colour,” the Indian-Australian woman said.
Being a young woman of colour in a “largely rural white community”, Ms Wright hopes to support and advocate for other minorities like refugees, Indigenous people and senior women.
But getting elected as an independent is difficult.
Ms Wright has funded her own campaign and does not have a large volunteer base, although there are advantages to not being associated with a political party.
“Lots of people have this distrust towards parties and politicians and running as an independent with fresh ideas has actually been more positive than negative,” she said.
If elected, the community sector worker hopes to create a youth council in the Bega Valley.
Ms Wright said she wants to support young people in thinking about how they can create change, and give them a platform for their ideas.
“There’s that small handful of young people who are very successful at school and really engaged in their communities, but there’s a whole bunch of young people that are completely disengaged because they’re not being heard,” she said.
Deyi Wu, president of the NSW Young Liberals, said there “definitely” needed to be more diversity in local councils, but there were some cultural barriers.
“Often young people are written off too quickly, or they write themselves off … but council isn’t necessarily about how good your CV is, it’s about wanting to give back to your local community and understanding the issues.”
“As someone who is from an Asian background, politics is known for being quite unstable,” she said, adding families like hers might encourage their children to pursue “safe” careers as doctors, lawyers or accountants.
Haris Strangas, a young Australian of Greek heritage, is running for a seat in Sutherland Shire for the Liberals.
“I want to give back to the community that has given my family and I so much. I am passionate about supporting small businesses through the reduction of red tape,” he said.
He said his running mate Hassan Awada immigrated from Lebanon in his 20s, and that young people brought a “youthful exuberance and new ideas to the table”.
“In recent years, I have personally seen an increase in candidates from diverse backgrounds representing the Liberal Party. I hope to see this trend continued,” Mr Strangas said.
Ms Wu said she hoped the upcoming election would be a way to see how many of their candidates were women, young or culturally diverse, and from there to establish a baseline and set targets.
“I think there definitely should be targets, especially when they’re recognised at a whole-party level, it is more likely to be achieved.”
HY William Chan, an architect running in the City of Sydney with the Clover Moore Independent Team, has never thought about running for federal or state government.
“I think at local government, that’s where you can have direct action, but also direct engagement,” he said.
Mr Chan said that he was representative of the city’s diverse population as a young, first-generation migrant.
“The City of Sydney has 50 per cent of the entire LGA [local government area] aged between 18 and 34,” he said.
“Fifty per cent of the community of the City of Sydney were born overseas, and I was also born overseas in Hong Kong.”
With a background in urban planning, Mr Chan is passionate about creating sustainable cities — he wants to implement water recycling and air monitoring systems to prepare the city for the impacts of climate change.
He also hopes to address homelessness and create affordable social housing which offers the community more than just four walls and a roof.
“Having access to green spaces actually becomes a critical part of our mental wellbeing,” Mr Chan said.
Another priority is to collaborate with young people and have conversations about creating a city that serves both current and future generations.
“Young people should be out voting, but we should be voting together as a community because it’s our collective future.”
Additional reporting by Erin Handley
“You’ve just missed something.”
Sergeant Rhydian Lancaster welcomes us to Pontypridd police station at 10pm on a Friday, just as officers have returned from dealing with a knife incident in the town centre. The sergeant is telling us what few details he can. Police arrested a man on suspicion of carrying a blade. No one was injured.
Inside the station, officers mill around desks adorned with chip shop paper, mugs of coffee and a cylinder containing the large meat cleaver just seized from the suspect. A witness to the incident sits on a swivel chair waiting to give his statement.
Sgt Lancaster, 41, says it is not common to see a knife in the town centre. The team had been expecting the weekend’s violence to come the next day with Wales’ rugby match against Australia.
We are here to join an overnight patrol in Pontypridd, where weekend disorder in the town centre is yet to reach pre-Covid levels but has been on a “gradual increase”, Sergeant Tim Russell tells us.
Over the next few hours we will hear abuse yelled at officers and see urination in a Senedd member’s office doorway. We will hear stories of flashing, taxi rank brawls and a TikTok user’s vandalism. And we will hear mixed views on the health of nightlife in the town.
With resources focused on the knife suspect now in custody at Merthyr Tydfil police station, the police covering Pontypridd town centre are down from 11 officers to seven. Leading the team are Sgts Lancaster and Russell, who give us a briefing in the kitchen before we set off.
Enjoying a takeaway from a Treforest chippie on his break, 47-year-old Sgt Russell tells us he has seen nights when Pontypridd has resembled the Western film Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but there has been less trouble in recent years.
“You get some people who will still come out on a Friday night looking for a fight,” Sgt Lancaster adds. “That will be their entertainment for the week.”
But both officers — who have a combined 34 years on the force — believe drinking culture has changed in their time. Sgt Lancaster recalls his early years policing Aberdare on weekends when there would be fights “on every street corner”. Now house parties are more common — and less likely to spark trouble.
“If anything, they cause more neighbour complaints,” says Sgt Lancaster. “But there’s still vulnerability. People sometimes pre-load at house parties and then go out, and they’re getting drunker.”
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Sgt Lancaster cannot recall witnessing a serious injury in the town centre over the last two years. “You do get some life-changing ones. I have seen people who’ve been bottled and their eye is hanging out, but not for years.”
Protecting vulnerable females is an important part of the weekend team’s role. Sgt Lancaster says they are mindful of recent spiking issues, which led to nationwide nightclub boycotts last month, but he adds Pontypridd has “not had a large number of reports”.
Plunging a chip into his beef pie, Sgt Russell quips to our photographer John: “I’m just going to do 10 press-ups before we go — we have to look our best for the pictures.”
Officers finish dealing with the knife incident, then a tyre pressure warning in our police car stays red despite the efforts of PC Paul Clark. By the time we walk to the high street it is almost midnight.
PC Clark, 41, tells us on the way: “A few weekends ago there was a guy who had part of his ear bitten off in town, but on the whole we tend to get to any trouble before it gets out of control.
“During Covid we got to a house party of about 15 people breaching lockdown, and ended up in a stand-off where the guy wouldn’t let us in. I got the equipment out to break the door down, and at the very last moment he realised we were serious and let us in. I think we gave 14 tickets for breaches and the organiser was arrested.”
We find varying levels of liveliness at the main strip of bars and clubs — Platform 11, Soul Suite, Skinny Dog, the Tumble Inn Wetherspoon and Club Ice. Two PCs have already made licensing checks on door staff and customer numbers.
About 100 metres from the bars is the taxi rank near Tesco Express, where we strike up a conversation with one of the drivers, Shebul Ali.
The 48-year-old says: “About two weeks ago someone came down here and jumped on my mate’s taxi bonnet because he wanted to make a TikTok video. It was a £30k Mercedes E-Class. When they have drugs, they can’t control themselves.”
Shebul tells us tonight has been quiet, but then a grinning fellow driver reminds him of something that happened earlier in the evening.
“Oh yeah,” says Shebul. “I took some customers to Ynysybwl and on the way back I was flagged down by four children. They were 14 or 15. They didn’t have any money for a ride to Glyncoch, but I said, ‘I’m coming this way anyway, I can take you.’ One of them was sitting next to me.”
Shaking his head and laughing in disbelief, he adds: “When I dropped them off, I realised my vape had disappeared with them. It’s ridiculous.”
Sgt Russell says police benefit from the taxi marshals hired by Rhondda Cynon Taf council, who help prevent fights caused by “cheating in the queues”. There is little activity at the rank as we approach the three marshals, but they tell us there is at least one scuffle per weekend.
One of them, Tim Loram, has been doing the job in Pontypridd for 10 years. When he started, the rank was by the train station and a magnet for aggression.
The 56-year-old says: “Three or four clubs kicked out at the same time, everyone turned up at the train station forecourt and all hell would break loose. Now we’ve moved a bit further from the clubs, it’s not so bad. By the time they get here, they’ve already been involved in the fight.
“You still get the occasional Saturday night where to say it kicks off would be an understatement. About six weeks ago there were 30 people in the middle of the road going hell for leather. We had to wait until the fight petered out, then police captured all the ones who were left.
“You get queue jumpers. You get situations where males interact with females from another group, and the males in that group take offence.”
Tim, who has martial arts training, says the marshals only get involved in breaking up brawls if there is danger to taxi drivers or their cars.
His colleague, 42-year-old Gerwyn Clement, adds: “We sometimes get females trying to give us the flash to try to jump the queues. It doesn’t work.”
The marshals say they enjoy the job because no two weekends are the same. “There are a couple of older customers who look forward to seeing us because they know they are safe when they get here,” says Tim.
It is about 12.30am. Metres from the rank, a man wearing a grey suit jacket and brown loafers is urinating in the doorway of Plaid Cymru MS Heledd Fychan’s office. He is scolded by his partner: “You’re going to be in WalesOnline now.” The man, in his 30s, tells us his spot was chosen for convenience rather than a political statement.
A group of mortgage advisers chat to us as they hail a taxi. The friends have been to Alfred’s Bar & Grill for dinner and a few drinks.
Michael Markey, 54, thinks the town’s nightlife is “a long way from being normal”. His friend Colin Davies, 29, adds: “You’d think it’s a weekday. It’s a shame to see Ponty not busy.”
As they pile into a cab, a man aged about 20 pelts past at full sprint, though no one is pursuing him. He is shouting “f*** the police” with a manic cackle.
Back near the bars on Broadway, we ask Sgt Russell about the runner. “He’s one of the ones we want off town rather than staying in,” he says. “The more attention you give them, the more they play up to us. Sometimes when people are almost out of range, they shout something stupid so they get a chase. We don’t give them one.”
Much of the work in deterring troublemakers is done by venues themselves, says Sgt Lancaster. Almost every pub in the town centre is signed up to Pubwatch, which sees watering holes share information with each other about who has been kicked out. They have a database of 41 faces banned from local pubs under the scheme.
Do banned drinkers still try to get in? “Not really,” says Sgt Russell. “The door staff are quite switched on. They know they’re not going to get through the door.”
Florence and the Machine’s hit Spectrum is playing in Soul Suite, but the red and green disco lights search a near-empty dancefloor.
Lianne Lewis, one of the door staff, says: “As you can see, we have got hardly anyone in there. There are only about five people. That would be 100-plus normally. It’s been like this the last couple of Fridays. It’s really shocking.”
The 44-year-old suspects some locals are still too wary of the virus to go clubbing, while others do not have Covid passes. Though she appreciates the safety benefits of passes, she says: “A lot of people haven’t got them and get turned away. We are trying to protect everyone but it is putting a lot of pressure on hospitality.”
The man who earlier relieved himself in the office doorway approaches Soul Suite, spending a couple of minutes fumbling for his Covid pass before entering. Another man seems about to come in too, but he has no pass.
Lianne continues: “Ponty used to be a booming town every Friday, every Saturday, every Sunday. I think all clubs are at risk to be honest with you.”
Soul Suite’s DJ Phillip Tyler wanders out, looking disillusioned by the low turnout. “It has been a frustrating night,” says the 28-year-old.
Other venues on the strip are busier, particularly Skinny Dog and Platform 11. The latter has dozens of clubbers dancing under red strobe lights.
But the Platform 11 owner, who does not want to be named, says his club has not been immune to the downturn. He puts tonight’s buzz down to a house and techno event — an example of the business having to be creative to pull in customers. “The passes are not doing us any favours,” he adds.
The Wetherspoon used to host a DJ every Friday night, he says, which would attract hundreds to the street, but has none tonight.
That has not dampened the enthusiasm of Leigh Tiley, who filled the Wetherspoon’s DJ booth with a huge cuddly toy dog he won earlier tonight at Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland fairground. He has christened it Benji.
Offering us a piece of fudge and pointing at our notepad, the 38-year-old garage owner says: “Let’s write a Valleys love story. We have had a fantastic night. This is how we like it. There’s community round here.”
A little after 1am, a group of students pour out of Club Ice, laughing and singing. One of them, Richie Tomlinson, shows off his bright green shirt to police. “This was £4 in a charity shop,” he tells them.
“It’s from Sainsbury’s,” his friend jokes. “I saw you buy it.”
The University of South Wales students disagree on the quality of Pontypridd’s nightlife. One complains he would much rather be in Cardiff, while his friend, a chiropractic student from Norway, defends the town: “On Friday it’s a bit boring but on Saturday it’s really packed in the Spoons.”
Richie, a 20-year-old strength and conditioning student, adds: “Ponty is a good night out. Club Ice has good music.”
Activity is dying down at 1.20am and Sgt Lancaster does not expect to be there much longer. “I wouldn’t even say we’ve had cause to speak to anyone,” he says.
The officer believes the town is not just safe, but also a nice place to visit, day or night.
“You have the Gatto Lounge that’s just opened, a lovely little bistro overlooking the River Taff,” he says. “Funding has just been secured for the Muni Arts Centre. There are plans to redevelop the old bingo hall. You can see the town is developing.
“The town centre has had a lot of bad press in the past. We have had complaints about antisocial behaviour through drink and drugs. There are things in place now to address these issues.
“We do an outreach programme on a weekly basis. Police will go out with housing officers, drug services, medical workers. It looks quite comical because you are walking through town in a huge group.
“Sometimes we see people with injuries that haven’t been treated. We had one man in his 30s with sepsis and he hadn’t been interested in getting treatment.
“Going out in a group means you can address their needs. Homeless people are being housed, people with drug issues are getting support. I’m really proud of it.”
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Crystal Palace’s official LGBTQ+ supporters’ group have called on those at the top of the game to “put action behind your words” ahead of the start of this year’s Rainbow Laces campaign.
Stonewall’s initiative, now in its sixth year, launched on Thursday and will culminate on December 8 when the Rainbow Laces’ new look will be displayed across Wembley Stadium in a show of support from the Football Association.
Premier League clubs will raise awareness on the issue of inclusion during the next three matchdays but Proud and Palace have urged the governing body and FA to become better allies.
“The theme of this year’s Rainbow Laces campaign is ‘Lace Up, Speak Up’ and centres on allyship,” a Proud and Palace statement read.
“While the Premier League’s involvement in Rainbow Laces is under (deserved) scrutiny the message of allyship is one that feels especially prescient at the moment.
“After all, Rainbow Laces is nothing more than window dressing if not backed up by action, and at times recently it has felt like those at the top of the game couldn’t be further from the allies we need.
“For a long time Rainbow Laces has felt too celebratory, too light, and not reflective of the fight that LGBTQ+ people are in across the world for equality. We need to remember that Pride is a protest. This is not just true of our fight, it is also true of the lacklustre response to racism by football’s governing bodies who think words are enough.
“To those at the top, we ask you to be better allies, and to put action behind your words, and this Rainbow Laces campaign while you ask fans to ‘Lace up, speak up’, to look yourselves in the mirror and ask yourselves to do the same thing.”
Liverpool are one of several English clubs who will show solidarity towards the LGBT+ community on Saturday by backing the Rainbow Laces campaign ahead of facing Southampton at Anfield.
Reds captain Jordan Henderson used his programme notes before the game to praise supporters who have called out homophobic chanting this season.
Back in August, Jurgen Klopp criticised Liverpool fans for chanting “Chelsea rent boy” at the Norwich midfielder Billy Gilmour, who is on loan from the Blues, during a fixture at Carrow Road.
Henderson said: “The game still has a long road to travel on this and we all have a part to play.
“Here at LFC we have seen this season that members of our own supporter base were made to feel unwelcome because some of our fans sang a historical chant which is homophobic. We know this because they had the courage to tell us.
“I still remember the statement made by Paul Amann, founder of Kop Outs, when speaking to Jurgen about it. He said it made him feel like a bucket of cold water had been poured over him, like You’ll Never Walk Alone meant nothing.
“I’ve since heard that raising awareness around this issue has meant when some fans have tried to sing or shout something homophobic at a game, other supporters now intervene and tell them it’s wrong. That’s how we progress. By showing that level of solidarity and by drawing a line.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s Gay Gooners group showed their support for the #freesuhail campaign ahead of hosting Newcastle on Saturday.
Lanyards were handed out to Gunners supporters outside the Emirates Stadium with #freesuhail printed on them to raise awareness of Suhail al-Jameel, a gay man reportedly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi’s state sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund, completed its takeover of Newcastle in October.
SINGAPORE: All vaccinated travellers arriving in Australia’s New South Wales and Victoria states from an overseas country must self-isolate for at least 72 hours.
Both states announced the new measure on Saturday (Nov 27) night amid concerns over the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.
“From 12am on Nov 28, all fully vaccinated travellers arriving in New South Wales who have been in any overseas country must travel directly to their place of residence or accommodation, get a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (nose and throat swab) test and self-isolate for at least 72 hours,” the New South Wales’ Ministry of Health said on its website.
Victoria’s government said on its website that from 11.59pm on Saturday, all new vaccinated arrivals and unvaccinated children under 12 who arrive in Victoria from overseas must quarantine at home for at least 72 hours.
Earlier on Saturday, Australia imposed new restrictions on people who have been to nine southern African countries.
The countries are South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, the Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique.
The government has banned non-citizens who have been in those countries from entering and will require supervised 14-day quarantines for Australian citizens and their dependents returning from these nine countries, said Health Minister Greg Hunt.
In November, Singapore extended the vaccinated travel lane scheme to Australia. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also announced that Australia would reopen its borders to all vaccinated Singaporeans from Nov 21.
Three flights are due to fly from Changi Airport to Melbourne on Sunday – Singapore Airlines SQ237, SQ217 and Scoot TR18.
There are four scheduled flights from Singapore to Sydney – Singapore Airlines SQ231, SQ211, Scoot TR12 and Qantas Airways QF82.
New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said the new measures will keep people safe.
“Authorities around the world are still investigating the risk posed by this new variant,” he added.
“As a result, the New South Wales government will continue to put community safety first by taking these precautionary but important steps until more information becomes available.”
There is travel chaos across Wales as 80mph winds batter the country, causing severe disruption to roads and public transport.
Transport for Wales have announced they have suspended all of their services due to the storm. Disruption is expected to last until the end of the day. The Welsh train operator have said there are no road replacement services in place and are advising people not to travel at all.
Many roads across Wales are closed and the roof is also believed to have blown off a house in the Valleys. In England and Northern Ireland, two people have died from falling trees.
Follow our live blog for up to date closures and disruption here.
A Met Office amber warning is in place with wind speeds expected to reach over 80mph until 9am today. A yellow weather warning for wind is also in place until 6pm on Saturday.
Western Power Distribution, which runs the electricity grid in most of south, mid and south-west Wales, says thousands of homes are without power.
Here are some of the main road closures across Wales this morning. Follow our live blog for up to date closures and disruption here.
M48 Severn Bridge – Monmoutshire – Both directions
The M48 Severn Bridge is closed in both directions between J2 A466 Wye Valley Link Road (Chepstow) and J1 A403 (Aust).
Vehicles are advised to use the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge.
A470 – Powys – Both directions
The A470 in both directions is closed due to fallen tree from Church Road (Llyswen) to A470 Wye Bridge (Llanstephan).
A485 – Carmarthenshire – Both directions
The A485 Southbound is blocked due to traffic problem from Llanllawddog turn off (Pontarsais) to Dan Y Dderwen (Rhydargaeau).
A494 – Gwynedd – Both Directions
The A494 in both directions is closed due to fallen power cables from B4416 (Bontnewydd) to Ysgol Leuan Gwyned (Rhydymain).
A4077 – Monmouthshire – Both directions
The A4077 New Road is closed due to fallen tree from A465 Heads Of The Valleys Road (Gilwern junction, Gilwern) to B4558 (Crickhowell).
There are multiple fallen trees along here.
A4233 – RCT – Both Directions
A4233 High Street in both directions closed, queueing traffic due to unsafe building from Ton Hywel to Heol Eurwen Davies.
The roof has been blown off a house.
A438 – Powys – Both Directions
The A438 is closed in both directions blocked due to fallen tree from A4079 (Three Cocks) to A479 (Bronllys).
A55 – Gwynedd – Both Directions
The A55 Britannia Bridge is closed in both directions due to high sided vehicles due to strong winds between J9 A487 ( Treborth ) and J8 A5 (Llanfair P.G.). Matrix sign set to 30 mph.
Junction 33 Eatsbound is down to one lane and the Junction 27 St Asaph Road is closed
B4293 Monmouthshire – Both Directions
Monmouth Road in both directions closed due to strong winds from Catbrook Road to Warren’s Road.
A466 – Monmouthshire – Both directions
The A466 in both directions is closed due to debris on road and fallen tree from Trelleck Road (Tintern) to A466 Brockweir Bridge (Brockweir).
A484 – Carmarthenshire – Both directions
The A484 in both directions is blocked due to obstruction on the road between B4301 (Bronwydd Arms) and B4333 Surgeon Street (Cynwyl Elfed)
Transport for Wales
Transport for Wales have announced they have suspended all services due to disruption to the line caused by the storm.
The services are expected to be affected for most of the day. Some services are gradually returning, and passengers are advised to check before travelling.
The rail operator has said there are no road replacement services and are advising passengers not to travel.
Great Western Railway
All train lines are also blocked between Cardiff and Swansea due to a tree blocking the railway.
Great Western Railway are advising passengers not to use the South Wales route to travel.
This is also affecting servoces in Bristol travelling to South Wales.
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