Posted: Wed 10th Jun 2020

Welsh Government face covering recommendation the wrong decision for Wales, says union

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 10th, 2020

A union has expressed its disappointment after the Welsh Government chose not to make wearing face coverings compulsory on public transport in Wales.

Health minister Vaughan Gething yesterday announced that it was instead suggesting the use of three-layer face coverings in situations where social distancing is not possible.

He said the evidence remained clear that maintaining a two-metre distance and good hand hygiene is the most effective way to protect yourself and others from contracting the coronavirus.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales regional secretary, said: “The Welsh Government’s announcement today that it only recommends the use of face coverings on public transport is very disappointing.

“As a union representing tens of thousands of frontline workers in Wales, including bus drivers, this falls well short of our members call for their use to be compulsory.

“The World Health Organisation has recently backed the wearing of face coverings and the Welsh government should be reflecting this in its decisions.

“The wearing of face coverings has been shown to reduce transmission of Covid-19 and would improve safety for both drivers and passengers alike.

“If Wales is going to start getting back to work, then public confidence in the safety of public transport is essential. Making face coverings compulsory is the best and simplest way of achieving this.”

Unite is now calling on the government to urgently review the decision and to take a “common sense” approach.

The latest advice from ministers only applies to people who are not showing symptoms of coronavirus.

People who are symptomatic must self-isolate for seven days and get a test, as set out in existing guidance.

Unless the test shows a negative result, they must not go out during this time, even with a face covering or mask.

Speaking at yesterday’s daily press conference, Mr Gething said: “Washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and maintaining a two-metre distance from others remain the best way of stopping the spread of the virus.

“On Friday, the WHO updated their guidance on face coverings, advising that they should be considered in settings where maintaining social distancing is difficult.

“However, to be crystal clear, wearing a face covering does not replace the need for social distancing or washing your hands regularly.

“Further scientific evidence is needed on the benefits to the wider public of wearing face coverings, but observational findings so far suggest that homemade or purchased three-layer face-coverings might reduce transmission from one person to another if made, worn, handled and disposed of properly.

“Therefore, on balance, we are recommending to the people of Wales that three-layer face-coverings should be used in situations where social distancing measures can be more difficult to achieve, for example, on public transport. We are not recommending their use outdoors.

“The wearing of face coverings will not be mandatory, but we will encourage people to do this for the benefit of themselves and others.”

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