Opposition parties call on Welsh Government to stop ‘lagging behind’ on face masks
Opposition parties have called for the Welsh Government to follow other parts of the UK and make face masks mandatory in more contexts.
From today people travelling on public transport must wear face coverings in Wales. The law will also apply to taxis.
But Plaid Cymru said the Welsh Government should “embrace” scientific evidence and make masks mandatory in shops.
The Conservatives also said that the Welsh Government was “lagging behind” when it came to asking hospital visitors and outpatients to wear masks.
The Welsh Government said they were introducing mandatory masking on public transport to help operators increase capacity on trains and buses as demand rises.
“The law has been introduced to help reduce the risk of public transmission of coronavirus and to protect the health of our public transport users,” Economy and Transport Minister Ken Skates said.
“We know it may not always be possible to maintain a 2m physical distance on public transport and the requirement to wear a face-covering is in addition to other guidance we have issued to our transport providers in order to encourage safe travel.”
Under the new law, people aged 11 and over will be required to wear face coverings on public transport. There will be exemptions for people with certain health conditions, including respiratory diseases.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said the Welsh Government’s decision making over face coverings “contradicts the cautious approach they’ve been following until now”.
Last week, England joined Scotland in making face coverings mandatory in shops.
The WHO, the president of the Royal Society, and various scientific publications including from Oxford and Washington Universities have also voiced support for the effectiveness of face coverings in preventing the spread of Covid-19.
“The Welsh Government really needs to update its policy on face coverings and embrace the latest scientific advice that suggests it can make a real difference in decreasing transmission of the virus,” Rhun ap Iorwerth said. “Instead, they’re lagging behind.
“Their reluctance to do so contradicts the cautious approach it has been following until, and frankly puts its citizens more at risk.
“The Welsh Government must urgently follow the overwhelming advice from sources including the WHO, the president of the Royal Society, various publications including from Oxford and Washington Universities, and many, many more.”
“Everything that helps combat the risks should be embraced. We’re seeing from a recent increase in cases in the Wrexham area, for example, that the risks of increased transmission are still very much present.”
Conservative Shadow Minister for Health, Andrew RT Davies MS, noted that outpatients and visitors at NHS sites in the north of Wales were being requested to wear masks.
“Since early last month, all visitors and outpatients have been obliged to wear face coverings at all times in hospitals in other parts of the UK,” he said.
“Regrettably, the same cannot be said here in Wales, where once again the Welsh Labour-led Government has lagged behind in implementing this crucial step.
“Time and time again, we are seeing Wales being held back by the constant dithering and delay from this government.
“The Welsh Conservatives call on the Welsh Labour-led Government to finally put Wales first, and make face coverings mandatory for all visitors and outpatients immediately.”