We have put together a round-up of all the latest news, weather, and travel information for Friday, March 25, that will get you caught up and ready for the day as it has been announced that Wales will end mask wearing in shops and on public transport as well as the requirement to self-isolate after Covid-19 infection from Monday. First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce on today that face coverings will no longer be required by law in shops and on public transport.
Self-isolation will also cease to be a legal requirement, although the £500 self-isolation payment will continue to be paid until June.
However, it will still be a legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and social care settings – and businesses will continue to be required to carry out coronavirus risk assessments.
Mr Drakeford said in a statement that Wales’ “cautious approach” is due to the country seeing an “unwelcome” rise in Covid-19 cases.
“We have seen an unwelcome rise in coronavirus cases across Wales, mirroring the position in most of the UK,” he said.
“We have carefully considered the very latest scientific and medical evidence and we need to keep some legal protections in place for a little while longer, to help keep Wales safe.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have taken a gradual and cautious approach as we have relaxed protections.
“We are firmly on the path towards leaving the emergency response to the pandemic behind us and learning to live with coronavirus safely.” The remaining restrictions will be reviewed again on April 14.
Wales news headlines
Large fire at working men’s club
A large fire has broken out at a working men’s club in Tylorstown. Photos from the scene show flames burning inside what was formerly Tylorstown Working Mens Club & Institute in East Road with a huge plume of smoke rising high above the valley.
Firefighters remain on the scene tackling the blaze, which started at around 5pm. You can see a round-up of pictures in one place by going .
A spokesperson for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service confirmed six fire engines were in attendance and that the situation was ongoing. The fire has also caused disruption on public transport with some bus services unable to run due to the road being blocked. A fire service spokesman later said there had been “partial building collapse” at the site while some residents in neighbouring streets have been evacuated from their homes. The A4233 East Road remains closed on Friday morning. Follow live updates here.
Lower energy bills for people near wind turbines considered
The government is considering plans to lower people’s energy bills based on how close they are to onshore wind turbines, the BBC is reporting. It’s an idea the energy company Octopus offers some customers in Caerphilly and Yorkshire. But the government is considering expanding this across the country.
There are currently strict planning rules about where onshore wind farms can be built in England, which inhibit the development of wind farms. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is in favour of loosening regulations to make it easier to approve plans for more onshore wind.
Another warm day with sunny spells. Here is the full forecast for Wales:
Isolated fog patches first thing will quickly clear leaving a fine and sunny morning. Some fair weather cloud will build in the afternoon, but there’ll still be plenty of sunshine and with only light winds it will feel warm. Maximum temperature 19 °C.
After a fine evening it’ll be a dry night with clear skies. Isolated fog patches may redevelop in river valleys with a touch of frost in sheltered spots by morning. Minimum temperature -1 °C.
Here is how the roads and rail are affected at 7am
East Road, in Tylorstown, remains closed after a building fire.
Police in Port Talbot are at the scene of an accident on Margam Road. The road is closed in both directions.
National news headlines
Ukraine can ‘certainly win’ in the face of Russian aggression – PM
Ukraine can “certainly win” against Russia, Boris Johnson has said, as western allies strengthened their position against the Kremlin by pledging there would be a “very severe response” to any chemical attack launched by Moscow. Mr Johnson said “the situation for the Ukrainians is grim, miserable”, but he praised “Churchillian” leader Volodymyr Zelensky and said: “I think Ukraine can certainly win.”
In an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight programme, following a day of intense diplomacy with Nato and G7 allies in Brussels, Mr Johnson said: “There’s a sense in which Putin has already failed or lost because I think that he had literally no idea that the Ukrainians were going to mount the resistance that they are and he totally misunderstood what Ukraine is.
“And far from extinguishing Ukraine as a nation, he is solidifying it.” However, Mr Johnson conceded it would be a challenge to give Mr Zelensky the tanks he has demanded to fight against the Russian invaders.
The Prime Minister said it would “logistically” be “very difficult” to supply the Ukrainian president with the tanks and jets he asked for during the Nato summit on Wednesday. Mr Johnson said allies would strive to give Mr Zelensky weapons “in the quantity and of the quality” he needs to defend his nation from the Russian invasion.
He pledged more missiles and a new deployment of UK troops to Bulgaria, while doubling personnel in Poland and Estonia to boost Nato on the eastern flanks. Mr Zelensky pleaded when appearing virtually at the summit in Brussels for “1% of all your planes, 1% of all your tanks”.
Western allies have previously been hesitant about providing jets out of concerns it could further provoke Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr Johnson accepted Mr Zelensky wanted more from Nato, saying allies felt “agony” about their “inability to do more given the constraints we face”.
Nato leaders agreed on Wednesday that Russia using chemical weapons would mark a “fundamental change” in the Ukrainian conflict that would be met with a “very severe response”. However, a Western official declined to outline what the response would be saying “we need to keep Putin guessing”.
Later, at a press conference, US President Joe Biden said there would be a “response in kind”, but then added: “We would respond. We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”
Loophole allowing drivers to escape punishment for using mobile phone closes
A loophole allowing drivers to escape punishment for hand-held phone use if they are taking a photo or playing a game will be closed from Friday. New rules ban virtually all hand-held use of mobile phones on Britain’s roads, in what Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described as a “zero-tolerance approach”.
New legislation means making phone calls and texting are not the only functions banned when behind the wheel. Taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists and playing games will also be prohibited.
Anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving could face a fine of up to £1,000 as well as six points on their licence. Department for Transport figures show 17 people were killed and a further 114 were seriously injured in crashes on Britain’s roads in which a driver using a mobile was a contributory factor.
Drivers will still be allowed to use their phones to make contactless payments, such as at drive-thru restaurants, as long as their vehicle is stationary. They can also use their device as a sat-nav if it is secured in a cradle.
Wales through to World Cup play-off final
It is all about football this morning as Wales booked their place in the World Cup play-off final by beating Austria at Cardiff City Stadium. Gareth Bale’s stunning double proved enough for Rob Page’s to earn victory in the semi-final encounter, with Marcel Sabitzer’s deflected effort proving to be merely a consolation for the visitors.
Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, three play-off matches in Wales’ path were postponed. Scotland’s semi-final with Ukraine will now take place in June, with the final set to be held in the same month. FIFA are yet to confirm an exact date for the fixtures, although full details will be announced in due course. Read what happens now here.
Bale calls out ‘disgusting’ criticism
After the game Gareth Bale said the criticism he has received has been “disgusting” and that those responsible “should all be ashamed of themselves'” after he spearheaded another glorious night for Welsh football.
Bale scored two stunning goals at Rob Page’s men beat Austria 2-1 in their World Cup play-off semi-final match at Cardiff City Stadium. They are now just one step away from the tournament in Qatar, with a game against Scotland or Ukraine awaiting them later this year.
In the build-up to the match, Bale had once again come under the spotlight from sections of the Spanish press over his perceived fitness problems. On the morning of the match he was labelled a “parasite” by Marca; accompanying a headline which read, simply, “The Welsh Parasite”, their website has mocked up an image of Bale’s face on a parasite’s body, appearing to suck blood from the Real Madrid badge. Read more here.