The Welsh Government has announced that they are now recommending that people in Wales wear three-layer face coverings in situations where social distancing is not possible.
They said that they were following updated advice from the World Health Organisation, which recommends a minimum of three layers in a face covering, which should include:
- An inner layer of absorbent material, such as cotton
- A middle layer of non-woven material, such as polypropylene
- An outer layer of a non-absorbent material, such as polyester or polyester-blend
This updated advice only applies to people who are not showing symptoms of coronavirus. People who are symptomatic must self-isolate for seven days and get a test, as set out in existing guidance, they said.
Unless the test shows a negative result, they must not go out during this time, even with a face covering or mask.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and maintaining a two-metre distance from others remain the best way of stopping the spread of the virus.
“On Friday, the WHO updated their guidance on face coverings, advising that they should be considered in settings where maintaining social distancing is difficult. However, to be crystal clear, wearing a face-covering does not replace the need for social distancing or washing your hands regularly.
“Further scientific evidence is needed on the benefits to the wider public of wearing face coverings, but observational findings so far suggest that homemade or purchased three-layer face-coverings might reduce transmission from one person to another if made, worn, handled and disposed of properly.
“Therefore, on balance, we are recommending to the people of Wales that three-layer face-coverings should be used in situations where social distancing measures can be more difficult to achieve, for example, on public transport. We are not recommending their use outdoors.
“The wearing of face coverings will not be mandatory, but we will encourage people to do this for the benefit of themselves and others.”
The Minister stressed that this advice only applies to people who are not showing symptoms of coronavirus, adding: “Anyone who has a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste must self-isolate for a minimum of seven days and get a test as quickly as possible. Unless the test shows a negative result, people must not go out during this time, even with a face covering or mask.”
Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Health, had earlier called for a change in advice.
“I think the evidence is now overwhelming that whilst the wearing of face covering isn’t enough on its own, it can be a real help in the fight against coronavirus for coverings to be worn in some public spaces,” he said.
“Further updated guidance from the WHO has added to a long list of substantial, credible evidence that face coverings can be an impactful addition to strategy in reducing coronavirus transmissions.”