FACE coverings have not yet been made mandatory in shops in Wales because coronavirus is at its “lowest ebb” in the country, Wales’ finance minister has said.

Rebecca Evans said it was important the country took a “proportionate response” to the pandemic, following the UK Government’s decision to enforce the use of face coverings for shoppers in England.

In Wales, face coverings will only become mandatory for public transport when new rules come into force on July 27.


On Tuesday, Ms Evans’ Labour colleague in Westminster, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, accused UK Government ministers of being “slow and muddled” over introducing the rule for shops in England.

Asked if the Welsh Labour government was also “slow and muddled” since it had not followed suit, Ms Evans said: “As the first minister set out yesterday as he was making the announcement on face coverings for public transport, coronavirus is very much at its lowest ebb thus far in Wales, and I think it’s important we take a proportionate response to that.

“But there will be places where it becomes difficult or impossible to maintain that two-metre rule from other people, and in those cases, it’s appropriate then to consider the use of face masks.”

Ms Evans said the Welsh Government had been consistent in making changes to measures only “once we have a plan in terms of how we will deliver that”.

On Monday, first minister Mark Drakeford said he would not mandate the use of three-layered face coverings in public places like shops.

But he said that could change depending on the state of the virus in Wales in future, while claiming businesses could request customers wear the coverings anyway.

He said: “At this point in time when the prevalence of coronavirus is low, we are not mandating the use of face coverings in other public places.

“But many people, of course, choose to wear them and there is nothing to stop that happening in Wales. Our advice may change if cases of coronavirus begin to increase again.

“And where it is not possible to maintain a two-metre social distance, some businesses may ask people to wear a face covering before they enter those premises.”