Senedd roundup: Opposition parties press for use of face masks in Wales

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Both Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives are pressing for the introduction of face coverings in Wales to help limit the spread of Covid-19.

The UK Government confirmed on Thursday that wearing face masks was being made compulsory on public transport in England from 15 June. In Scotland First Minister Nicola Nicola Sturgeon has said face coverings could become mandatory on public transport and in shops soon.

First Minister Mark Drakeford told journalists at a press briefing on Friday that ministers were reviewing advice on the use of masks and said: “We will continue conversations over the weekend and make a definitive statement in the first part of next week.”

Earlier this week the World Health Organisation changed its advice, saying masks should now be worn where social distancing is not possible, and on Friday the British Medical Association said it wanted ministers in Wales to change position and make wearing face coverings mandatory.

Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Health said: “The Welsh Government must listen to the experts and their calls, and pay close attention to the emerging science and take on board evidence that can help keep people in Wales safe.

The case for the universal face coverings in higher risk public spaces, such a supermarkets, is becoming stronger. I believe Welsh Government should respond and adapt their strategy, moving to active encouragement of the use of face coverings.”

Angela Burns MS, the Welsh Conservatives Shadow Health Minister also pressed for the introduction of masks and accused the government of “playing catch up” over the issue: “Unlike the Welsh Labour Government, we take the advice of doctors seriously and for that reason I welcome the suggestion that the general public, here in Wales, wear face masks in areas where socially distancing cannot be carried out.

“Wearing face masks has already been introduced across the border and, sadly, it would seem the Welsh Government is, once again, playing catch-up with Westminster.”

The death toll due to coronavirus in Wales has climbed to 1,393 after Public Health Wales announced 10 further fatalities.

There were 42 new cases reported in the last 24-hours bringing the toatal number of confirmed cases to 14,356. The recent increase in the number of tests carried out has been maintained with 3,136 carried out over the last 24-hours.

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Phased return of dental services to start next month

The Chief Dental Officer for Wales has revealed that a phased return to normal dental services will commence from July 1st.

Since March many dental procedures, such as fillings or scaling, have been cancelled to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Some dentists have remained open for urgent care throughout the lockdown and fifteen urgent dental care centres have been opened across Wales to provide emergency treatment.

From July 1st urgent dental centres and dental practices will introduce more treatments and a full range of care, including fillings, will be available at some local dental practices to everyone who urgently needs them and has experienced problems during lockdown.

This group of people will be offered assessment and care first.

The second phase of normalising dental services will see a full range of care made available in more practices and prioritised for people who need treatment, including those who have had treatment delayed because of the pandemic.

The third phase will see the resumption of routine check-ups for people with no dental problems and good oral health.

Dr Colette Bridgman, Chief Dental Officer for Wales said: “We are very grateful to everyone who has been waiting for treatment during lockdown and will do our best to ensure everyone is treated as soon as it is possible to do so safely. Please continue to be patient and to enable those with the greatest needs to be treated first.”

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Retailers call for date when non-essential shops can reopen.

The Welsh Retail Consortium is calling on the government to give a date from when non-essential retailers can reopen their stores.

Only essential shops, petrol stations and garden centres can currently open in Wales, provided social distancing rules can be applied.

The UK Government announced last week that shops in England can reopen on 15 June.

Following last week’s review of the coronavirus lockdown regulations the Welsh government said it will not update its advice until 18 June but urged businesses to prepare for reopening ahead of the next review by putting the necessary safety measures in place.

Sara Jones, head of the Welsh Retail Consortium said: “We need to know if the R number is low enough, if health guidance allows it, that we have an indicative date to work towards.”

“That is what we have in England. That is something we need in Wales to provide some level of certainty to our members.”

Russell George MS, the Welsh Conservatives Shadow Minister for Business and Economy,  backed the call from retailers and asked the government to offer certainty over when they can re-open: Mr George said: “If the Labour-led Welsh Government can at least pencil in an opening date – rather than a woolly instruction to prepare for re-opening – and give the sector some certainty, it will give the shop owners a boost, give them confidence, and help our economy get back in gear.”

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