Face coverings made mandatory in shops and indoors in Wales from Monday

11 September 2020, 08:31 | Updated: 11 September 2020, 09:16

Face coverings are to become compulsory from Monday in shops and indoor spaces in Wales
Face coverings are to become compulsory from Monday in shops and indoor spaces in Wales. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The Welsh Government is following England and Scotland in introducing a ban on meeting more than six people inside houses and making face coverings mandatory in shops and other indoor public spaces.

First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to give a press conference later today explaining the details of the measures, which will differ somewhat from those in the rest of the UK.

Indoor meetings of more than six people from an extended household will be illegal from Monday, but unlike the rest of the UK, Wales is not banning larger groups outside.

Wales' coronavirus rules stipulate people can only be part of a single extended household, comprising a maximum of four households.

But up to 30 people from different households will still be able to meet outside in Wales and, unlike England, the rule of six inside will not apply to children aged 11 and under.

"We are not introducing that restriction on people meeting outdoors because we have no evidence in Wales that the virus is being transmitted between people when they meet in the open air,” the First Minister said.

The social gathering rules from Monday in each country:

England: Up to six people can meet from any number of households. This includes children.

Wales: Up to six people can meet indoors from one extended household, which can be made up of four houses. This does not include children under 11. Up to 30 people can meet outside from any household.

Scotland: Up to six people can meet from two households. This does not include children under 12.

Northern Ireland: Up to six people can meet indoors from two households. Up to 15 people can meet up outdoors.

Read more: UK economy grew by 6.6 per cent in July as lockdown measures eased

The changes in Wales come as coronavirus cases in the country have risen above 20 people in every 100,000.

"That's the level we use for imposing quarantine on people returning from overseas and, having reached that threshold, we will introduce mandatory use of face coverings in shops and enclosed public places in Wales," Mr Drakeford told the media.

He continued: “What we want to persuade people to do is to eliminate the more risky behaviours that we know in parts of Wales are definitely contributing to an upsurge in the disease."

There will be signage and enforcement of the rules on masks, the First Minister said, but “policing is the last resort”.

Caerphilly county borough, where there is a local lockdown, will not see any changes after a further 34 cases were recorded there on Thursday.

Restrictions on the 181,000 people who live in Caerphilly include a ban on extended households meeting indoors.

Meanwhile, an intensive care doctor at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Cardiff told LBC they could be just weeks away from a significant rise in hospital admissions.

“The crossover with seasonal flu and the increased activity in hospitals generally in winter time, if you combine that with a resurgent pandemic then you are actually in a great deal of danger that the whole system could be overwhelmed,” Dr David Hepburn explained.

Across the UK, positive Covid test results have increased from 12.5 per 100,000 people to 19.7 per 100,000 in the last week.

But cases are most prevalent amongst the 19 to 21-year-old age group, where there are 54 cases per 100,000.