Face masks on public transport and taxis mandatory in Wales from today
Passengers in Wales travelling on public transport and in taxis must wear face coverings from today.
The change was announced by the First Minister on 13th July as part of ongoing efforts to protect people from coronavirus.
Although face coverings have been required on Arriva Buses across Wales, up until now they have not been mandatory on wider public transport and in taxis.
Under the new law, people aged 11 and over will be required to wear face coverings on public transport. There will be exemptions for people with certain health conditions, including respiratory diseases.
People are advised to wear a face covering made up of three layers of the same close knit, or close woven material.
Drivers, guards and other operators of public transport may ask people not to board if they are not wearing face coverings. If necessary fixed penalty notices may be issued by the police, with a fine of £60 in the first instance subsequently doubling in the event of repeated offences.
The move to make face coverings on public transport compulsory aims to help operators to increase capacity on trains and buses as demand rises following the ongoing process of gradually easing the coronavirus restrictions in Wales.
At the moment the Welsh Government is still asking people to consider their reasons for using public transport in order to ensure capacity for critical workers and those with no alternative transport.
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said: “From today the vast majority of our public transport users in Wales will be required to wear a face covering while travelling on our buses, our trains and in taxis.
“The law has been introduced to help reduce the risk of public transmission of coronavirus and to protect the health of our public transport users.
“We know it may not always be possible to maintain a 2m physical distance on public transport and the requirement to wear a face covering is in addition to other guidance we have issued to our transport providers in order to encourage safe travel.”
However Wales is alone in not making wearing face masks mandatory in shops. Such guidance has been in place in Scotland since the start of July, since Friday in England and from August 1st in Northern Ireland.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said the Welsh Government’s decision making over face coverings “contradicts the cautious approach they’ve been following until now”.
Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “The Welsh Government really needs to update its policy on face coverings and embrace the latest scientific advice that suggests it can make a real difference in decreasing transmission of the virus. Instead, they’re lagging behind.
“Their reluctance to do so contradicts the cautious approach it has been following until, and frankly puts its citizens more at risk.
“The Welsh Government must urgently follow the overwhelming advice from sources including the WHO, the president of the Royal Society, various publications including from Oxford and Washington Universities, and many, many more.
“Everything that helps combat the risks should be embraced. We’re seeing from a recent increase in cases in the Wrexham area, for example, that the risks of increased transmission are still very much present.”
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