Rules requiring the wearing of face coverings are to remain in place in some settings in Wales, including on public transport.
The Welsh Government has said today that face coverings will continue to have an important role in helping to keep people in Wales safe from coronavirus.
Currently, Wales is at Alert Level One of its system of restrictions, with face coverings required by law in all indoor public places. Ministers have now confirmed that as a minimum, legal rules requiring the wearing of face coverings on public transport and in health and social care settings will remain in place while coronavirus remains a public health threat – even if other restrictions are eased.
Speaking about the announcement, First Minister Mark Drakeford said;
“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.
“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.”
The Welsh Government has said it is actively considering whether face coverings should also be required in other settings, such as retail, in the event of restrictions being relaxed.
On Friday, Wales’ Education Minister Jeremy Miles announced that face coverings will no longer be recommended in school classrooms from September.
Ministers are to hold the country’s regular 21-day review of coronavirus regulations next week, at which point they will consider whether to relax restrictions in some indoor places, including people’s homes. Plans will also be published, in the form of an update to the ‘Coronavirus Control Plan’, to set out how Wales can move to a new alert level zero which will have fewer legal restrictions.
The announcement in Wales that face masks will remain mandatory in some settings comes after it was announced that mask-wearing will no longer be enforced in England.
However, some reports have suggested that mitigations including COVID-status certification could yet be used for pubs and similar venues in England, amid concerns of a drop in vaccination rates and a recent surge in cases of the virus.
In Wales, the latest 7-day coronavirus case rate was 135.7 cases per 100,000 people – compared to 286.6 cases per 100,000 people in England.