Posted: Fri 11th Sep 2020

FSB Wales welcomes new face covering rule but calls for more effective communication from Welsh and local government

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Sep 11th, 2020

People in Wales must wear face masks in shops and other indoor public spaces from Monday, first minister Mark Drakeford has announced.

Its a move which has been welcomed by the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales, but they have called for clearer communication from Welsh and local government.

Mr Drakeford told BBC Breakfast: “We said in our lockdown plan back in August that if coronavirus reached a certain threshold, in Wales, we would revisit our advice on face coverings.”

“From today for the first time, we will get to a point where 20 people in 100,000 in Wales are suffering from coronavirus.”

“That’s the threshold we use for people to have to quarantine coming back into the UK and having reached that threshold today we will be making the use of face coverings mandatory in shops and enclosed public spaces in Wales.”

He later told BBC Radio Wales, “We’re doing it on a precautionary rather than a reactive basis, we’re doing it as part of a sequence of measures to try to stem the rise in numbers here in Wales before they become very serious.”

“Scotland and England, have both had mandatory face coverings for some weeks now and the position in both of those countries is worse than it is in Wales and getting worse faster than it is in Wales.

So, I think sometimes people talk about face coverings as though they were some sort of magic wand. They’re not, they are at this point in time, a sensible addition to the precautionary measures we are taking”.

“There will be signage, there will be policing, but that is the last resort, we want to educate, to inform, to persuade and people in Wales have been so willing to play their part in keeping one another safe. I’m confident that we will see good levels of compliance in Wales.” He said.

Ben Francis, Policy Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses Wales said: “The wearing of masks can provide a certain level of protection from Coronavirus, and therefore we hope that this new measure will provide reassurance and confidence to shoppers and business owners in Wales.”

Mr Francis said it is “vital that we all do our bit on mask wearing in shops and public spaces moving forward.”

This announcement demonstrates just how quickly the situation is changing in Wales, which in turn creates an urgent need for Welsh Government to regularly and effectively communicate with businesses.” He said.

“This need for effective communication will only become more pressing as we deal with local lockdowns where different regulations apply in different areas.

Local authorities must be part of the solution for providing businesses with the clarity that they need on what they can and cannot do.”

FSB Wales has been very clear on our willingness to work with Welsh and local government on this but a more open line of communication is required urgently.” Said Mr Francis.

“Of course, we know that facemasks cannot be worn by everyone, and wearing them can pose significant challenges for certain groups, such as those who are deaf and reliant on lip reading.

We also must be careful that this does not become a trigger for abuse against shop owners and their employees, even though the majority of customers have so far proved accepting of social distancing measures. Understanding and empathy should be important watchwords for all if this does happen.” Mr Francis said.

“While some shoppers may still be nervous, small firms will be hoping that these new measures will inject new confidence into customers and get them back into town centres and high streets across Wales.” He added.

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