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Swansea International Festival returns for 2017

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THE 2017 Swansea International Festival heralds in the autumn with a wealth of such exciting and diverse national and international talent that it will be impossible not to tempt you out and about for the next two weeks!

For the opening concert at the Brangwyn Hall, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Tecwyn Evans, will play a programme of Copland and Dvorak, with Karl Jenkins’ harp concerto, Over the Stone, being performed by brilliant Welsh harpist Catrin Finch.

BBC NOW are also making a return to the Festival with their successful Family Concert, conducted by Clark Rundell and compered by Naomi Wilkinson – a regular face on CBBC and CITV.

With music from films such as The Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Simpsons this has proved to be a popular event for families when introducing their youngsters to the fun of live music – as well as giving them the opportunity to try out some instruments for themselves before the concert!

If you like your music a little more avant-garde then take in The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments with their adventure in words and music based on the writings of Francis Bacon.  Performing on extraordinary lost instruments from history they conjure a special world of music, physics, theatre and philosophy  Or go along and hear percussionist extraordinaire Joby Burgess and his adrenalin-fuelled Powerplant concert where he uses an aluminium harp, typewriter, giant steel sheet, electronics and video with such musical athleticism that it will astound you!

Take in a whole day of activity on October 8 when you can hear a recital from talented young pianist Tim Horton, enjoy lunch with the Festival Friends, then a talk by broadcaster Stephen Johnson and a piano recital by Wales’ own international talent Llŷr Williams.

Next week is just as busy with organist Jonathan Hope giving his own live improvisation to the 1925 Lon Chaney classic silent film, Phantom of the Opera; Thomas Carroll’s Orpheus Sinfonia, performing in Swansea for the first time; two very much home-grown plays – Granton Street and Not About Heroes; the Russian State Opera with two of Puccini’s most powerful operas – Madam Butterfly and Tosca; Ballet Cymru’s delightful new ballet The Light Princess and James Wilton Dance’s athletic contemporary ballet Leviathan.

There is a unique opportunity to hear Lord Heseltine in conversation with Jamie Owen, A Primary Schools Festival and Free Lunchtime Lectures and a Morriston Hospital Music Festival – and much, much more.

Two concerts round off the Festival for 2017  – The Dunvant Male Choir and Morriston RFC Male Choir, with soloist Gwawr Edwards, sing some of your most well-loved songs in their concert on 13 October and on 14 October the St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Dmitriev, with solo cellist Tim Hugh, will bring the Festival to a rousing finale.

See Festival website for full details on: www.swanseafestival.org

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The Range’s Swansea Store Shortlisted for ‘Best Christmas Display’

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Christmas has arrived early for The Range stores in Wales, boasting gigantic displays of all-things festive! The Range is well known for going all out during the Christmas season to create a fun and magical experience full of trees, lights, decorations and much more for their customers to enjoy and this year is no exception. The Range in Swansea surpassed expectations with a display so great, it’s left them shortlisted for ‘Best Christmas Display’ out of all The Range’s 182 stores.

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Local coronavirus restrictions imposed to control outbreaks in South Wales

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Coronavirus laws are being tightened in four more Welsh authorities – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport – following a sharp rise in cases, Health Minister Vaughan Gething today announced.

The new measures will come into force at 6pm on Tuesday 22 September 2020, to protect people’s health and control the spread of the virus in the four local authority areas.

The new restrictions will apply to everyone living in Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport:

People will not be allowed to enter or leave these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education;
People will only be able to meet people they don’t live with outdoors for the time being. They will not be able to form, or be in, extended households;
All licensed premises will have to close at 11pm;
Everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public areas – as is the case across Wales.
From 6pm on Tuesday 22 September, the requirement for all licensed premises to close at 11pm will also be extended to Caerphilly borough.

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

“Following the decision to place additional coronavirus restrictions in place in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, we have seen a worrying and rapid rise in cases in four other south Wales council areas – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport.

“In many cases, this is linked to people socialising indoors without social distancing. We are seeing evidence of coronavirus spreading. We need to take action to control and, ultimately, reduce its spread and protect people’s health.

“It’s always a difficult decision to introduce restrictions but coronavirus has not gone away – it is still circulating in communities across Wales and, as we are seeing in parts of South Wales, small clusters can quickly cause real issues in local communities.

“We need everyone’s help to bring coronavirus under control. We need everyone to pull together and to follow the measures which are there to protect you and your loved ones.”

The restrictions are being introduced following a rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in coronavirus, which have been linked to people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from summer holidays overseas.

The Welsh Government will call an urgent meeting of all local authority, health board and police forces from Bridgend to the English border tomorrow to discuss the wider situation in South Wales and whether further measures are needed across the region to protect people’s health.

The new local restrictions measures will be kept under regular review. They will be enforced by local authorities and by the police.

Keep Wales safe by:

Always keeping your distance
Washing your hands regularly
Working from home wherever you can
Following any local restrictions
Following the rules about meeting people
Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.

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Welsh legislation will restrict those travelling from hotspot areas

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MARK Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, has today announced legislation which will restrict those coming from coronavirus hotspot’s from travelling to Wales.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has refused to impose rules which prohibit those from areas where the infection rate is high from entering low virus rate areas’s.

Mr Drakeford has made two requests to the Prime Minister requesting to impose rules which will mean those from high virus areas in England be prohibited from travelling to Wales, a request which has been denied by Mr Johnson.

The powers set by Mr Drakeford will come into force by the end of the week, unless Boris Johnson takes action sooner.

Speaking at the Plenary today, Mr Drakeford made the announcement, stating if Mr Johnson does not reply to his request by Friday then The Welsh Government will bring in legislation to restrict travel from those in English lockdown areas travelling to Wales.

Mr Drakeford said this was not a case of all those from England being restricted travel to Wales, just hotspot areas.

He said: “Evidence from public health professionals suggests coronavirus is moving from east to west across the UK and across Wales. As a general rule, it is concentrating in urban areas and then spreading to more sparsely populated areas as a result of people travelling.

“Much of Wales in now subject to local restriction measures because levels of the virus have risen and people living in those areas are not able to travel beyond their county boundary without a reasonable excuse. This is designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK.

“We are preparing to take this action to prevent people who live in areas where there are higher Covid infection rates across the UK from travelling to Wales and bringing the virus with them.

“I am determined to keep Wales safe.”

The legislation, which is understood to come into force Friday, October 16 at 6pm, will mean those travelling to Wales from areas of England which are classed as virus hotspot’s will be restricted.

The new legislation also restricts those travelling into Wales from high virus prevalence areas from Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament – Paul Davies MS – has rounded on the First Minister over a ban on people entering Wales from England, and the Labour Party’s inability or unwillingness to publish comprehensive data proving that transmission rates are accelerating due to travel.

Mr Davies took the First Minister to task during Plenary today (October 14), and referred to a statement made by the leader of the Labour Party on September 23 when he said that the Welsh Government was not seeing any spikes at all in infection due to travel and tourism.

Mr Davies said that the people of Wales deserve to have sight of the data that underpins the Welsh Labour-led Government’s position on this matter, so that they can be confident that the Government’s actions are proportionate to the threat of the virus in their area.

Mr Davies also referred to a paper that accompanied the First Minister’s letter to the Prime Minister yesterday, a paper – that was not peer-reviewed – that confirms the data “…does not constitute definitive proof” in favour of a travel ban.

Mr Davies said: “The First Minister and his Government have acted rashly and without examining a range of other factors before a conclusion on whether to impose a travel ban or not is reached, while at the same time seemingly ignoring the fact that transmission rates in relation to travel had already peaked in August and September.

“It is incumbent on the First Minister to explain just why he has chosen to act in this way, and what supporting evidence he and his Ministers have seen to justify a ban and then publish it so it can be properly scrutinised.

“If he cannot or will not, then he must review and rescind this ban immediately.”

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