Wales to legally require shops to make coronavirus risk assessment  

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A man walks past a Wales souvenir shop wearing a face mask on October 23, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Welsh Government said it will strengthen legislation to ensure shops and workplaces carry out a specific coronavirus risk assessment.

These risk assessments, it said, will be the starting point for implementing measures to minimise exposure to the virus on premises open to the public and in workplaces.

“Risk assessments must be reviewed and updated regularly, whenever circumstances change and I want to make clear in law this includes whenever the coronavirus alert levels change in Wales,” First Minister Mark Drakeford said.

The risk assessment will only be required by those who employ 5 or more people. The measure will involve considering issues such as adequate ventilation, hygiene, ensuring physical distancing and the use of PPE and face coverings.

“We are working closely with employers, trade unions, local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive to consider the detail on how to keep work settings safe,” Drakeford added.

Drakeford said the latest move, which follows a meeting with key retailers this week, will strengthen regulations to ensure retailers take the measures – which many have already implemented – so that their premises are as safe as possible for shoppers and their employees alike.

“Many are already operating high standards and we need to raise the bar for those who could and should improve,” he said.

Drakeford added that shoppers have a personal responsibility to help make shops as safe as possible, adding that the government will not tolerate any abuse directed at store employees who remind people of their responsibilities.

The new strain of the virus is moving quickly across Wales, with a firm foothold in North Wales, where cases of coronavirus are rising sharply.

Wales has entered a lockdown on 19 December, with restrictions expected to remain in place until the end of this month when a review will take place.