I went to see if people wear masks on public transport and in shops
In August, Wales went to the zero alert level. This means that, for the first time since March 2020, almost all of Wales’ restrictions on coronaviruses have been lifted.
From Saturday August 7, the rules on the number of people meeting indoors in private homes, public places or at events were lifted and all businesses and premises were able to reopen.
However, one thing that did not change with this lifting of restrictions was the legal requirement to wear masks and face coverings in the majority of indoor public places.
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Unlike across the border in England, where the legal requirement to wear face coverings was abolished on July 19, here in Wales, the requirement to wear masks in shops and on transport public is still in place.
Announcing the zero alert level regulation on August 6, the Welsh government said: “Face coverings will continue to be required in most indoor public places in Wales, including public transport, in stores and in healthcare facilities. There will be exemptions for people who cannot wear them, as there are now. “
But, almost two months later, are people still following these regulations?
To get a feel for the current situation in Cardiff, I spent the day shopping around and using public transport to see how many people were wearing masks and face coverings.
By visiting Tesco and Primark and using both the bus and the train to take trips, I wanted to see how many people continued to wear masks and face coverings in each.
As has always been the case since masks became a legal requirement in Wales, exemptions are in place for those who cannot wear face covers, and those under 11 are not included in the regulations.
Welsh government guidelines say people can have a reasonable excuse not to wear face coverings if (for example):
- You are unable to put on or wear a face covering due to physical or mental illness, or due to a condition or disability
- You accompany someone who relies on lip reading where they need to communicate and you cannot access a transparent face covering
Of course, doing this over a day meant that I only had a small snapshot of the image at certain times of the day, and that was by no means scientific.
But, to try and get a roughly comparable snapshot at each location, I set myself about ten minutes in each and counted how many people had face coverings and how many didn’t.
So, heading out in the rain, here is what I found in each place of the capital:
Place 1: Supermarket
Time of day: 2:30 p.m.
Total number of people counted: 64
People without mask: 12
The first setting I headed to was Tesco Extra on Western Avenue.
By the way, going through the entrance a one-way system is still in place here with buyers being able to enter on one side and exit on the other.
Tesco said in January: “To protect our customers and colleagues, we will not allow anyone who is not wearing a face covering into our stores, unless they are exempt as per government guidelines. “
However, during my time in the supermarket, I did not see anyone entering the store being challenged not to wear a face cover by the staff or the security guard at the entrance.
Upon entering the store, I set a timer for 10 minutes and went to get some groceries.
Walking around in the early afternoon the store was quite busy. At first I tried to count how many masks I could see while walking the aisles. However, I quickly realized that there were so many people walking past me that maybe I should find a better way to do it.
For the record, however, as I wandered around and grabbed my purchases, it appeared that the majority of people were wearing some sort of face covering.
Looking for a better way to see how many people were wearing masks, I paid for my purchases and set up near the entrance. By setting another timer for 10 minutes, I counted each person who passed in front of me.
On the other hand, I excluded anyone who was clearly exempt, for example, they were obviously under 11 or wearing something to let others know that they had a hidden disability preventing them from wearing a cover-up. face.
During the 10 minutes, I counted 64 people. Of these 64, 52 wore some sort of face covering, while 12 did not.
This means that about 81% of the people I saw were wearing face coverings.
Location 2: Retail
Time of day: 4:30 p.m.
Total number of people counted: 109
People without mask: 49
My next stop was Primark on Queen Street. Knowing how often this store can get busy, I was curious to see how it would compare to Tesco.
Again, I wandered around the store to get a rough idea of how many people were following the rules. Right away, it appeared that there were fewer people wearing face coverings here.
I stood at the entrance to Queen Street and set another timer for 10 minutes.
As before, any obviously exempt person was not included in the final count.
In total, I counted 109 people entering the store. Of these, 46 were not wearing any face coverings.
This means that the rate of people wearing face coverings was around 58%.
Place 3: Train
Time of day: 5 p.m.
Total number of people counted: 37
People without masks: 17
Heading to Cardiff Central, my next stop was the train. Hopping on the 5:00 PM Great Western Rail service to Newport (a trip that takes just over 10 minutes without any stops), I counted the number of people in my car.
Eight out of 18 people were not wearing face coverings while 10 were.
Arriving in Newport and boarding the 5:24 pm GWR train back to Cardiff, I again counted the passengers in my car in what seemed like a huge case of déjà vu.
Of 19 people, nine were not wearing face coverings while 10 were.
This means that between the two trips, 20 out of a possible 37 people wore masks, while 17 did not.
Or, to put it another way, around 54% of the people I saw on the train were wearing face coverings.
Place 4: Bus
Time of day: 5:50 p.m.
Total number of people counted: 13
People without masks: 3
In the latter part of the day, I hopped on the number 58 Cardiff bus to Custom House Street and rode it for just over 10 minutes to Penylan Road.
What was immediately clear after the train I had just taken was that the bus certainly had a much higher proportion of people following the regulations.
Out of 13 people who got on and off during my trip, only three were not wearing masks.
Compared to the other places I had been to during the day, it was obviously a pretty low number of people. But, that aside, it still means that around 77% of passengers wore a mask.
Overall it was a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest.
From the brief trips I took to each location, it was clear that while the majority of people continue to wear masks and face coverings, there are a significant number who do not.
Tesco and Cardiff Bus very clearly had the highest percentage of customers adhering to the Welsh government’s face covering guidelines, while the rate of people wearing masks in Primark and on the train was considerably lower.
But then again, like I said before, my trip only provided a snapshot of certain places at certain times of the day, so it’s not necessarily representative of larger trends or patterns.
However, what is clear is that it can be difficult to predict how many people will wear face coverings from place to place.
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