Posted: Fri 1st May 2020

Mixed messages on face coverings but Wales has “no plans” to follow Scotland’s lead

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, May 1st, 2020

Boris Johnson has said face coverings will be “useful” after lockdown restrictions are eased.

During his first daily press briefing since recovering from coronavirus, the Prime Minister said using face coverings would “give people confidence they can go back to work.”

The Scottish government has recently recommended people cover their faces while in enclosed public spaces, such as shops or on public transport.

Earlier this week, UK Government Health Secretary Matt Hancock – who’s remit covers England and not the devolved nations –  said there was only “weak science” supporting the advice from the Scottish government.

Dr Frank Atherton, the Chief Medical Officer of Wales, was asked on Thursday if the public should be wearing face masks.

Dr Atherton said he had seen people wearing face masks in public, and that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has looked into the issue, “SAGE has looked at this issue and there a potential small effect but the effect is really quite, quite marginal in terms of enclosed environments.

“As I understand it, there is no evidence really that wearing face masks in the general public outdoors, for example, has any benefit.”

Dr Atherton referred to ‘dis-benefits’ from use of masks, including that the public sourcing masks could mean supplies for hospitals could be ‘leeched’ from.

Dr Atherton did acknowledge the new guidance in Scotland, noting it was not mandatory, and said Wales would ‘watch what happens around that’ however currently there were ‘no plans in Wales to move in that direction’.

A question was posed if someone close to him said they were going to a shop, and asked Dr Atherton if they should wear a mask what would his advice today be and could it change in a week.

Dr Atherton said , “My advice today, and unless anything in the science changes in the next week, will be no.”

“What is important to you is maintaining that social distance that we’ve all now starting to become accustomed to, that is far more important.”

You can view the full brief, plus the Q&A on the below video…

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