People in Wales should wear face masks outdoors, health minister says

PEOPLE in Wales should wear face masks in outdoor public places, the health minister said today.

Vaughan Gething today called for people to wear masks whenever they leave their home as coronavirus cases have continued to soar.

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The health minister warned it was crucial for people to follow social distancing rules, as new infections continued to climb.

He said: "As we speed up the rollout of vaccines across Wales, it's more important than ever that we follow the rules to keep all of us safe.

"That means staying at home and working from home wherever possible, keeping our distance from others, washing our hands often, good ventilation and air circulation.

"And if we do have to go out, wearing a face mask when we're in public places."

But Wales has not changed the official guidance on face masks – which tells people to wear them in most indoor places

Wales was plunged into a Level Four lockdown earlier this year, as the new super-contagious variant ripped through all of the UK.

It means people must stay at home, and everything except essential shops must close.

Schools in Wales have also been closed.

It comes as England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned people could spread coronavirus while outdoors.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 this morning, Professor Whitty warned: "If people for example are crowded together in a queue outdoors, if they're really huddled together round a market stall or something – that is a risk with this virus – and in that situation there might be some logic to people thinking about wearing masks."

And there are fears ministers in Westminster could make face masks mandatory outdoors in England.

Last week, London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for face coverings to be worn outside the home after he declared a major incident in the capital.

There are fears lockdown rules in England could be toughened up, after parks and beaches were full of people in the first weekend of the third lockdown.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the Government wanted to avoid further rules, but warned the super-contagious new strain of the virus "loves social interactions".

When asked if the current rules were going far enough, he said: "We don't want to introduce tougher measures. The lockdown is tough, schools are shut.

"But it's important to remember this virus loves social interactions -that is the best way for the virus to spread."

And Mr Zahawi said ministers are "reviewing all the restrictions".

Speaking to Times Radio, the vaccines minister said anyone who sits on a park bench with a friend is risking spreading the virus.

"Don't go out and sit, or have that opportunity for social interaction. You are helping the virus, that's what we want to avoid," he said.

When asked about face masks being made mandatory in outdoor public places, a spokesperson for No10 said: "As you would expect and we have done throughout the pandemic, we look at the latest data and statistical information, the rate of transmission, the T rate, number of hospitalisations, fatalities. 

"We continue to look at the data and monitor it. We keep out measures under review.”

 

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