We asked people if the Welsh Government should still phase out face masks as Covid cases rise
Face masks have become so normal in Wales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic that it is now hard to imagine leaving home without one. However, people in Wales seem split on whether face coverings should be phased out at the end of March as planned as we see a sharp rise in virus cases.
Last month, on February 28, Wales saw easing rules on the wearing of masks in certain indoor settings. It became a personal choice to wear them in places such as movie theaters, community centers, gymnasiums and museums. Despite this, rules on wearing face coverings in retail and public transport remained in place.
But on Friday the Welsh Government will have a very big decision to make. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Mark Drakeford said that if the situation remained “stable”, all legal restrictions would finally be lifted on Monday March 28. This means that it will no longer be compulsory to wear a face covering in shops, in public places. transportation, or in health care facilities from that date and self-isolation will not be required by law.
Read more:The reasons why Covid infection rates are rising again in Wales
However, ministers will have to judge whether the situation is stable – and that is far from clear. Over the past fortnight, the seven-day infection rate has increased in Welsh communities and has now reached 304.5 cases per 100,000 people (for the week to March 13). A fortnight earlier, it was just over 150 cases per 100,000.
Similarly, the latest lateral flow test data, for the week to March 13, also shows a sharp rise in positive tests in Wales. There have been 21,212 positive test results reported in the past seven days, up substantially from 12,288 the previous week. Meanwhile, the latest infections survey from the ONS confirmed that around 125,400 people in Wales, or one in 25 people, had Covid in the last reported week.
We asked our readers if they think the Welsh Government should drop plans to end face mask rules as Covid cases continue to rise. Here is what they said:
Dawn Mcqueen said she thought it was now “time to make a personal choice”. She said: “Those with health problems are at risk every year. I’ve noticed in Wales that the number of people no longer wearing masks has increased. It doesn’t make sense. I went in the theater, cinema, etc. and no masks and [it has been] packed up. Then you go to a supermarket or shops where there is hardly anyone and you have to wear one and the staff don’t wear a mask.”
For Vicky Hancock, “common sense” must be applied to wearing a mask. She wrote: “Maybe we should just learn to live with it! Common sense if you have a cold or signs of something. Maybe then you should test, isolate or wear a mask instead of impose restrictions on everyone.”
While Gillian Griffiths said: “I have just recovered from Covid-19 – not a great experience! Thankfully I survived. I will continue to wear my mask and use sanitizer for as long as I it will have to. Covid hasn’t gone anywhere.”
Similarly, Elizabeth Jackson wrote: “Wearing a mask is okay. You wear it for others, but it also helps protect you by reducing the risk of inhaling infection droplets. Additionally, if wearing a mask reduces the spread of disease, it reduces your risk of catching it.We all wear clothes, just think of it as a fashion accessory.
Kelly McCarthy said: “I feel a lot safer wearing one and haven’t had a single cold since wearing a mask so that must be a good thing.” Lisa Reynolds said: “They’ve been in place for far too long like this. Let’s go back to life, more people have suffered from the rules than Covid itself. We owe it to our children.”
Simon Lent wrote: “The logical thinking is – loosen restrictions the more people go out the more people interact so cases will increase but surely this is beneficial to boosting our natural immunity? I’ve had it twice a year aside and i worked all along, no wearing a mask only had one vaccine, and now two years later people are still thinking about restrictions what about other diseases that require the attention from the NHS but cannot due to the onset of Covid services taking over other vital services? is enough?…”
Sian Westcott said: “The sooner the restrictions are lifted, the better. Whether some people want to continue wearing masks depends on the individual. When there is a new virus, it will not be totally eradicated and we have to live with it.”
Sheila Williams said: “We were in England last week. There were quite a few people without masks but there were quite a few who wore them more a number of shops asking people to put on a mask to enter the store. I don’t know what the answer to this is, but I know that we will always wear our mask wherever and whenever we need it.”
Andrew Rutter said: “No. Covid is not going anywhere, it will be with us for generations no matter how many lockdowns or rules are put in place. Just like the chimney and many others we have to live with and If some people, for whatever reason, want to wear face masks and/or self-isolate, surely that’s the freedom of choice.
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