Covid: What are the penalties for not wearing a face-covering in Wales?

Face masks are still considered a vital tool in tackling the spread of the virus, but the number of people wearing them appears to be slipping Credit: PA

By ITV Wales Production Journalist Gareth Axenderrie

The number of people complying with face-covering requirements in Wales has fallen, despite still being required in most indoor settings.

Wales' chief medical officer, Dr Frank Atherton, has said he's worried that people seem to be acting as if the pandemic is over.

Anecdotal evidence of people not wearing face-coverings on public transport and shops continues to cause concern as Wales faces some of the highest Covid rates in the world.

Despite the Welsh Government dropping many coronavirus restrictions from August 7, the requirement to wear face-coverings remained in place.

Now, with Wales' case rate at a record high of 716.9 cases per 100,000 people, and pressure mounting on the Welsh NHS, mask wearing is still regarded as an effective tool in the challenge of limiting the virus' spread.

Where are face-coverings required in Wales?

Public transport

Face coverings are required on all public transport in Wales, including inside taxis.

The only exception is on public transport which is open to the air, such as on the open air deck of a ferry or water taxi.

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Pubs, restaurants and cafes

Face coverings are no longer required in hospitality settings such as pubs, restaurants and cafes.

However, where only part of a premises is available to consume food or drink, the requirement for you to wear a face covering will still apply in the other areas.

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Shops and shopping centres

Face-coverings are still required in shops, including in supermarkets.

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What about everywhere else indoors?

Face coverings continue to be required in healthcare settings, places of worship, hairdressers and salons, cinemas and museums, gyms and leisure centres.

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At weddings and civil ceremonies

People attending wedding and civil partnership ceremonies are no longer legally required to wear a face covering, in line with exceptions already in place for wedding receptions.

Wedding venues and hospitality premises may still require customers to wear face coverings in all or part of their premises at their discretion.

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Those under the age of 11 do not need to wear a mask indoors, nor do those who cannot wear a face covering because of disability or the need to communicate, such as when lip-reading.

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A Welsh Government spokesperson told ITV Wales: “The pandemic has not gone away and we all need to work together to take steps to protect each other from this awful virus.

“Face coverings continue to play a key role in keeping people safe and it is a legal requirement for anyone over the age of 11 to wear a face covering in indoor public places, apart from hospitality, and on public transport.”

Who is responsible for enforcement?

Managers of premises are required to provide information about the legal requirement to wear face coverings to those intending to enter their premises, however, they are not expected to take enforcement action themselves.

Staff at venues may ask a customer to wear a face covering, or ask for confirmation of a reasonable excuse.

Premises have a right to refuse entry if needed and they may also call the police to report issues of antisocial behaviour.

Police played an active role in enforcing Covid restrictions during lockdowns Credit: PA

According to the Welsh Government's latest published guidance, the police have the ability to enforce face-covering requirements and penalise non-compliance.

Amid concerns of members of the public not wearing masks in a number of shops in Cardiff, the city's council confirmed the responsibility lies with the police.

When asked how they planned to continue enforcing the requirement, South Wales Police said that "as restrictions have eased, personal responsibility is even more important in bringing the pandemic to an end".

What penalties does non-compliance carry?

The legal requirement to wear a mask rests with the individual themselves. However, rules can be enforced by police officers.

Fixed penalties can be issued for breaches, with a first offence punishable by a penalty of £60, doubling for each subsequent offence up to £1,920.

Repeat offenders could also find themselves prosecuted in court where there is no limit to the fine that may be issued.

Public transport has been another area where the number of people wearing masks seems to have dropped.

British Transport Police, who are responsible for policing Wales' railways, reiterated that they will continue to use enforcement as a last resort.

A spokesperson told ITV Wales: "As has been the case throughout the pandemic, our officers have continued with the ‘4Es’ approach of engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce any Coronavirus legal requirements."

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