Wales Scraps COVID-19 Curbs on Businesses, but Keeps Mask Mandate for Health Settings

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
April 14, 2022 Updated: April 14, 2022

A rule that requires Welsh businesses to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments will end on April 18, but the mask mandates for medical settings will remain in place for another three weeks.

The Welsh government’s latest review of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions, published on April 13, said, “From April 18, 2022, businesses and organisations will no longer be legally required to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of contracting coronavirus.”

The government also said it is “no longer necessary” for local authorities to retain powers to “close or control premises and events” to contain infection risks.

Epoch Times Photo
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks to Labour Party members during the launch of the Welsh Labour local government campaign, at Bridgend College, Wales, on April 5, 2022. (Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

But First Minister Mark Drakeford, a Labour politician, said this does not mean businesses should scrap their existing measures.

He told BBC Radio Wales, “It certainly doesn’t mean that businesses will be abandoning all the things that they put in place to keep their workers safe and to keep customers safe.”

The review said the government will “retain the requirement for face coverings to be worn in health and social care settings for the time being.”

Drakeford said the decision to keep the mask mandates was to “help to control the spread of coronavirus in places where some of the most vulnerable people in our society are being treated and live.”

Though masks are no longer legally required in other settings, the government said its guidance will “continue to recommend face coverings are worn in all indoor crowded or enclosed places.”

Drakeford said, “Unfortunately coronavirus is still with us.”

“We hope we are beginning to turn the corner. But it’s really important we all continue to take steps to protect ourselves and each other,” he added.

The latest relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions has been welcomed by business groups.

Leighton Jenkins, assistant director of the Welsh chapter of the Confederation of British Industry, said the changes are helpful to businesses which have been under increasing strain from rising energy costs and inflation.

The Welsh government’s COVID-19 restrictions, which have been significantly more stringent than those in England, have been criticised by Conservatives.

Russell George, a Conservative member of the Welsh legislature, said the newly announced changes are coming “too late with the long bank holiday weekend already on us.”

He urged Drakeford to “announce an independent public inquiry into the Welsh government’s handling of the pandemic that has seen Wales with the highest rate of deaths in the UK and record-breaking waiting lists.”