Wales dallying to make masks mandatory in shops is "chaos" and "madness", shoppers say

By Sue Austin | Mid Wales | Coronavirus | Published:

The disparity between when to wear a mask and when not to on either side of the Shropshire/Welsh border is "chaos" and "madness", according to shoppers.

These signs appear in shops in England, but not in Wales

Plaid Cymru backed those claims, saying the decision to see if coronavirus spread once again first before making face coverings mandatory in Wales "risked waiting for the horse to bolt before closing the stable door".

A petition has been launched calling on the Welsh Government to make it mandatory for masks to be worn in public.

Currently, masks only have to be worn in Wales on public transport and not in shops and other enclosed spaces.

Majority complying

But in England, shoppers are now getting used to putting on their mask when they enter shops and many other places – with the majority complying with the ruling.

Ellesmere resident Ricky Roberts shops for his older relatives who live across the Welsh border.

"It's a real mixed bag," he said. "Everyone in England knows the rule, mask on – compulsory. It's great and most people abide by it. In Wales it's chaos, mask on or off it doesn't matter. People hang over you to grab shopping and nobody follows directions.

"The second wave must sadly be on its way. I just feel sorry for the NHS and my sister as a frontline worker. And I am advising my parents to stay at home while all this is going on."


Neil Thomas lives in Guilsfield and shops on both sides of the border. He has signed the petition and says the difference in the two countries is huge, with less than 10 per cent of people in Wales wearing masks in stores.

"What is the problem?" he asked. "Why can't the rule in Wales be to wear a mask? It is so straightforward. How hard it is to wear a mask and wash your hands?

Civil liberties

"If we want to get back to life that is somewhere near normal that is what we have to do. It is the only way we are going to get football stadia and concerts up open again.


"We are lagging behind everyone else because people say it infringes their civil liberties. It is madness."

He said he had been impressed with the way Wales had been cautious opening up after lockdown until now.

"Caution has been the watchword in Wales and yet now we have this nonsense of people not wearing masks inside shops," he added.

Responding to the news that Welsh Government will only make the wearing of face coverings mandatory in places other than on public transport if coronavirus starts to spread in Wales again, Plaid Cymru's Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “The Welsh Government approach is the wrong way round.

"Face coverings should be seen as preventative above all, rather than a cure. They’re best used to keep people safe now, rather than a tool to be used to help beat back the virus once it has taken hold again. Welsh Government risks waiting for the horse to bolt before closing the stable door.

“Wales is now an outlier when it comes to mandating the wearing of face masks in shops, and I think that should also include other crowded public spaces. The Welsh Government’s reluctance to do so until the virus has once again taken hold undermines the cautionary principle that Welsh Government has wanted to follow, and it’s putting its citizens at more risk than needs be.”

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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