Covid: Face masks to stay in Wales but no decision on shops

  • 6 months   ago

Face masks will continue to be required by law in some settings in Wales as long as Covid remains a threat.

The Welsh government has said face coverings in Wales would still be mandatory on public transport and in health and social care settings.


Ministers are undecided if wearing masks will continue to be law in shops.

Wales' health minister said Wales will look different to England after 19 July where face masks and social distancing will not be law in most settings.

When is Wales' next lockdown review?

The Welsh government's next 21-day review of the coronavirus regulations is due to take place on Wednesday.

It has been under pressure to announce a date for ending Covid restrictions after England announced its so-called 'freedom date' of 19 July, and Scotland said it planed to lift remaining legal restrictions on 9 August.

The Welsh government, which has taken a "cautious approach" to easing rules, had said Wednesday's review would "set out whether restrictions can be relaxed in some indoor places, including people's homes".

"We will need everyone's help to keep coronavirus under control as we continue to respond to the pandemic - this virus has quite certainly not gone away," said Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford.

"We know many people are still worried and anxious about going out. We will maintain the requirement to wear face coverings in certain places - on public transport and health and social care settings, and others where necessary - to help keep us all safe."

What are Wales' current lockdown restrictions?

Welsh ministers have already told school pupils that wearing face coverings in the classroom will no longer be recommended from September.

Now travel agents and tour operators have called for Wales to follow English rules and allow double-jabbed residents returning from amber list countries to return home without the need to quarantine.

Wales is currently at alert level one in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, which means face coverings are mandatory in all indoor public places.

Ministers in Cardiff are expected to publish an updated Coronavirus Control Plan this week, setting out what will happen once Wales moves into alert level zero.

Where will people have to wear face masks in Wales?

The Welsh government said if Wales moved from alert level one to zero, its lowest level of Covid restrictions, face coverings would still be mandatory on buses, trains and taxis and in settings such as doctor's surgeries, hospitals dentists and opticians.

Wales' Health Minister Eluned Morgan said that wearing face masks is an "effective way of reducing the transmission of coronavirus".

She added: "We are absolutely clear that this will be a necessity in areas where people don't have any choice but to travel on public transport, there's enclosed places with not very obvious ventilation methods and therefore these are obvious places for us to focus.

"We are still discussing whether we need to go further and whether we want to introduce this also at retail level."

"We all have a duty to help to protect each other.

Ms Morgan said things will look very different in Wales compared to England on 19 July, but added there is a prospect for some relaxation later in the summer.

What are Wales' Covid rates?

Wales has the lowest coronavirus infection rate of any of the UK nations but the 122 cases per 100,000 people rate has risen from less than 10 since the start of June due to the emergence of the Delta variant in Wales.

Wales also has one the best vaccination rates in the world with 56% of its population having both vaccine doses and 72% having one.

What has been the reaction to Wales' face masks rule?

Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Conservatives leader in the Senedd, said: "Let's not forget that Wales has the highest death rate of any country of the United Kingdom and it was only this time last year that the Welsh government were viciously and vocally arguing against the use of face masks.

"It does seem as if they are just trying to get ahead of a press conference that the UK prime minister is going to be doing tomorrow rather than actually any informed decision making which we expect in Wales on Wednesday."

Plaid Cymru health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth said his party "welcomes the Welsh government's sensible decision to require the continued use of face coverings in certain settings as case numbers remain high".

Mr ap Iorwerth called for consistency in the enforcement of rules in different settings, including on trains and in schools.

Source: BBC