Posted: Tue 7th Jul 2020

Wales’ Health Minister ‘looking forward to updated advice’ on mandatory use of face coverings in public places

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2020

The Welsh Government will look at any updated evidence which suggests face coverings should become mandatory in public places.

A Shadow Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said today there is growing scientific evidence that suggests the risk of transmission is lowered with face coverings.

Mr ap Iorwerth said Wales should follow Scotland and make face masks compulsory on public transport and in shops and called on the Welsh Government to provide a “clear and unambiguous directive” on making face masks mandatory.

The President of the Royal Society, Professor Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, said today “everyone” should carry a face covering when they leave home in order to tackle coronavirus and that they should be worn “whenever you are in crowded public spaces”.

Prof Ramakrishnan said: “The virus has not been eliminated, so as we lift lockdown and people increasingly interact with each other we need to use every tool we have to reduce the risk of a second wave of infection.

There are no silver bullets but alongside hand washing and physical distancing, we also need everyone to start wearing face coverings, particularly indoors in enclosed public spaces where physical distancing is often not possible.”

The UK is way behind many countries in terms of wearing masks and clear policies and guidelines about mask wearing for the public.

The public have taken to handwashing and distancing but remain sceptical about face coverings.

You only need to go on public transport, where they are supposed to be mandatory, to see how many people are ignoring this new rule based on the growing body of evidence that wearing a mask will help protect others – and might even protect you.”

Health Minister Vaughan Gething

During today’s Welsh Government briefing, Vaughan Gething said Wales’ chief medical officer “will, of course, be considering not just the comments made [by Sir Venki Ramakrishnan] but the evidence base that underpins them.”

“I will look at the evidence that SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) and others are providing on what we need to do to try to continue to lower the risk of transmission of Coronavirus, especially as we ease further out of lockdown, so it’s a dynamic position.

I’m looking forward to updated advice and consideration from the chief medical officer and others.

If there is a change in that advice or consideration by myself, or the First Minister, then we will, of course, update the public.

We’re continuing to look at the evidence and today’s comments are part of what we’ll need to consider doing as we help to keep Wales safe now and in the future.” Mr Gething said.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said, “Evidence continues to grow about the effectiveness of face coverings in limiting the transmission of the Coronavirus.

Just as Scotland has now made face masks compulsory in shops and public transport, Welsh Government should provide a clear, unambiguous directive and make the wearing of face coverings a requirement in certain public places.

We cannot become complacent as more restrictions are eased. The battle to bring down the transmission rate and stamp out the virus continues, and face coverings have a part to play in that.

You can view today’s Welsh Government briefing here:

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