Face coverings to remain mandatory on public transport in Wales

People wearing masks on a bus

Face coverings will remain mandatory on public transport in Wales despite Westminster policy. And the requirement for them to continue to be worn in shops is also being considered.

The approach is in contrast to England’s roadmap out of lockdown. Prime minister Boris Johnson has said the legal obligation to wear face coverings will end once the country reaches Step 4 on 19 July.

Diverging paths

A final decision on England’s path out of restrictions is due on 12 July. However, in Wales masks must still be worn in taxis, on trains and buses, as well as health and social care settings when coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions are eased, the Welsh Government said. It added that it’s giving “active further consideration” to whether they’ll still be required by law in other settings, like retail.

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.

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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 made the announcement on 11 July. It said scientific evidence supports the use of face coverings as a way of reducing virus transmission. And it added that face coverings are “particularly useful” in crowded, indoor areas with poor ventilation.

Health minister Eluned Morgan said:

Wearing face masks is an effective way of reducing the transmission of coronavirus.

We all have a duty to help to protect each other. Keeping everyone safe has been the Welsh Government’s priority through the pandemic and will continue to be the priority in future.

More details coming

On 9 July, it was announced that face coverings will not be routinely recommended in classrooms across Wales from September. Drakeford is expected to make a statement on 14 July setting out further details on the new alert level zero for Wales.

The country is currently at alert level one and face coverings are mandatory in all indoor public places.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to announce her country’s next steps out of lockdown in a statement to the Scottish parliament on 13 July. She’s described Johnson’s approach as “something of an exception”, appearing to indicate hers will be more cautious.

In the north of Ireland, the removal of rules around all face coverings, with regulations potentially replaced by guidance, are due to be considered next month.

The Stormont Executive has already announced that the legal requirement to wear face coverings in places of worship is also set to be removed on 26 July. And the use of face masks in classrooms is to be removed from guidance.

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