A LEADING medical expert has warned shoppers against complacency when retailers open their doors next week.

Today the first minister announced non-food retailers would be allowed to re-open next week, following three months of lockdown.

But while the announcement has been welcomed by traders and business groups, Dr David Bailey – the council chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Wales – said it was "important to remember that the risk from this highly infectious illness remains significant".


He added: “Now is not the time to be complacent, and the re-opening of shops does not mean there is no threat.

"It’s important that people continue to follow social distancing guidelines and wash their hands regularly to minimise the risk of spread."

His warnings echoed those of the Welsh health minister, Vaughan Gething, who said yesterday the Welsh Government's "properly cautious" response to the pandemic hinged on the public's response to the health advice and rules.

Speaking before the first minister confirmed the re-opening of non-essential shops, Mr Gething said: I don't want to see a repeat of crowds bunched together outside shops in complete breach of what social distancing guidance is supposed to deliver.

"I don't want to see workers put at risk, I don't want to see shoppers put at risk.

"People need to take a step back and look at the position we're in, and to recognise that the release from lockdown comes with responsibilities for all of us in the way that we choose to behave."

Dr Bailey said the Welsh Government must take "every measure possible" to support shoppers and workers, and provide clear advice on how shops could keep customers safe.

He said "lives are still at risk" if shops cannot guarantee social-distancing measures.

While face coverings and masks are not mandatory, the BMA Wales Cymru council chair said he recommended shoppers cover up.

"Wearing coverings can reduce the spread of the virus, especially when social distancing isn’t possible, so I’d urge those considering entering shops to wear a non-surgical face covering," Dr Bailey said.

The public had a responsibility to keep following the rules or risk undoing the progress and sacrifices made by front-line medical staff, he added.

“Doctors have been working tirelessly during the pandemic to care for patients and save as many lives as possible, putting their own safety, health and wellbeing at risk," Dr Bailey said. "Doctors working on the front line are therefore rightfully worried about the devastating impact a second peak could have for their patients, the health service and the wider population.

"I’d urge people to remain cautious. We must continue to take this virus seriously or more lives will be lost.”