Compulsory use of face coverings in public areas from Monday

Written by on 11th September 2020

Welsh Government has announced that residents MUST wear a face covering in shops and indoor public areas from Monday – but the Council continues to ask residents to volunteer to wear them with immediate effect due to the local circumstances in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The compulsory new rule covering the whole of Wales will come into effect and written into law from Monday, September 14.

However, due to the rise in Coronavirus cases and to try to avoid a local lockdown for Rhondda Cynon Taf, we continue to ask residents to wear a face covering with immediate effect and in all crowded indoor AND outdoor areas.

The general rule we are asking residents to follow is that a face covering or mask should be worn at all times in public places where the 2m social distancing rule is difficult to achieve – and where they are likely to encounter people who are not within their extended household.

From Monday, it will become law to wear a face covering in shops and indoor public areas, and we are asking Rhondda Cynon Taf residents to extend this further to ALL public places on a voluntary basis – including crowded outdoor areas such as high streets and visitor attractions.

To be effective, a face mask or covering MUST be worn over the mouth AND nose. Face coverings are NOT a substitute for social distancing, which is the best way of stopping the virus and must be observed where possible.

There are important exemptions to the law and the additional measures we are asking from residents. Children aged 11 and under are exempt, along with emergency service workers where a face covering may interfere with their ability to serve the public. Someone escaping threat or danger is also exempt, as well as people with a physical or mental illness, or a disability.

Other reasonable excuses for not wearing a face covering include if you need to take medicine, eat or drink, if you are undertaking permitted sport or leisure activities, or if you need to remove a face covering to avoid harm or injury.

Face coverings should contain three layers, as has been recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and must cover the wearer’s nose and mouth. Medical grade masks should be reserved for health or care workers.

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “Welsh Government has today announced that residents must wear a suitable face covering in shops and indoor public spaces from Monday. This is a compulsory measure for all residents across Wales, and will become the law.

“It follows our joint announcement with Merthyr Tydfil Council and Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board yesterday, in which we asked residents and visitors to both County Boroughs to volunteer to wear a face covering with immediate effect, due to the rise in local Coronavirus cases. That request still applies, and we are asking residents to volunteer to wear a face mask over the coming weekend, and not to wait until it becomes law from Monday morning.

“We are also asking residents to volunteer to wear a face covering in all busy public places – including outdoor spaces such as high streets, which is not covered by the law coming into force on Monday. Again, this request is due to our specific circumstances and our efforts to avoid a local lockdown in RCT.

“It is important to note that evidence shows the best way to protect yourself and others from the spread of Coronavirus is to follow the 2m social distancing rule, to avoid touching surfaces and your face, and to wash your hands regularly and properly. Wearing a face covering alone should not be seen as a suitable alternative nor a replacement for these responsible actions.

“We must all continue to do our bit to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus, as the Council continues to work very closely with Public Health Wales and Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board. Yesterday’s announcement also requested that residents work from home where possible, to only use public transport as a last resort and not to visit care homes.

“The public test centre covering the Lower Rhondda area is now also up and running – and is now located at the Council’s civic offices in Clydach Vale – while we continue to work with local businesses such as pubs and supermarkets to ensure they are fully-complying with the necessary guidance and measures.”

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