Masks now mandatory in Welsh shops

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The mandatory use of face coverings in indoor public places has come into effect today (14 September) in Wales.

The move, along with further constraints on meeting socially, is part of the measures to prevent a fresh coronavirus crisis.

“Once again we are having to focus on tightening restrictions across Wales to prevent cases from rising even higher and prevent the problem from worsening – as we have seen elsewhere in the UK,” First Minister Mark Drakeford said in a statement on Friday.

People aged above 11 need to compulsorily wear a face covering in public indoor spaces, such as shops. Those who cannot wear them for health or medical reasons are exempted from the rule.

Face masks will not be required in pubs or restaurants for the time being but the government said it is carrying out a rapid review of the evidence on extending it to the hospitality sector.

Commenting, Ben Francis, Wales Policy Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses urged the government to communicate ‘regularly and effectively’ with businesses on the changing pandemic situation.

“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,” Francis

“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.”

Francis has also sounded a note of caution on the possibility of altercations regarding the use of face masks.

“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.”