Wales introduces stricter rules for supermarkets to prevent Covid spread

15 January 2021, 12:25

File photo: A general view of an ASDA supermarket in Wales
File photo: A general view of an ASDA supermarket in Wales. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Stricter rules for supermarkets are to be introduced in Wales to help prevent the spread of the new strain of coronavirus, the First Minister has announced.

Mark Drakeford said regulations would be strengthened to make sure retailers offer sanitisers for hands and trolleys, limit the numbers of people inside stores, and ensure people keep their distance from others.

The new rules announced on Friday are part of a package of measures introduced following concerns that a faster spreading variant of Covid-19 is behind a spike of transmissions across the country.

Read more: One of two Brazilian coronavirus variants 'has been detected in UK'

Specific Covid-19 risk assessments will now also have to be carried out by any business which employs five or more people to help prevent the spread of the new strain.

They include things like making sure there is adequate ventilation, making sure people are physically distancing and using PPE, and to consider whether their employees can work from home.

Mr Drakeford said the risk assessments must be reviewed and updated regularly by law even when Wales moves down from its current Alert Level 4.

He said: "We are working closely with employers, trade unions, local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive to consider the detail on how to keep work settings safe.

"Ministers have also met this week with key retailers to discuss their vital role during the pandemic. They set out the actions they are taking from providing sanitisers for hands and trolleys on entry, limiting the numbers in store at any one time; and making regular announcements reminding people to keep their distance from others.

"We will strengthen regulations to ensure retailers take these steps so that their premises are as safe as possible for shoppers and their employees alike. Many are already operating high standards and we need to raise the bar for those who could and should improve.

"However we all have a personal responsibility to help make shops as safe as possible. We all need to shop alone if we can, observe the 2m rule, practise good hand hygiene and wear a face covering unless exempt. Any abuse directed at store employees who remind people of their responsibilities will not be tolerated."

Passengers planning to travel into Wales from abroad will also have to prove that they have tested negative for coronavirus before their departure, Health Minister Vaughan Gething has said.

The requirement, which comes into effect from 4am on January 18, would help protect against new strains of Covid-19 circulating internationally.

The rule applies to inbound passengers arriving by boat, plane or train from countries outside the UK, Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Tests must be taken up to 72 hours before departing the country they are in, with proof of a negative result presented to carriers as well as a passenger locator form.

A mandatory 10-day quarantine for arrivals will remain in place for passengers arriving from countries not on the Welsh Government's travel ban list, regardless of their pre-departure test result.

On Friday, Mr Gething said: "We are doing everything we can to slow down the spread of the virus.

"These new measures will help ensure we prevent new strains of the virus developing internationally from being imported into Wales."

Wales remains in its Alert Level 4 lockdown restrictions, travel for a holiday into the country is not permitted, and people must stay at home unless travelling for essential reasons.

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