Wales’ Mask Debacle

Charlie Evans

Mark Drakeford has announced today Wales will finally adopt mandatory face coverings in public places, some two months after England adopted the same measure. The tipping point for such a decision? A rather terrifying 20 cases per…100,000 people.

The political and media consensus is “why did it take so long”. I have a slightly different steer- why have we adopted this policy based on this measure when it obviously is very inflated by significant local outbreaks in Caerphilly and Cardiff? In the rest of Wales we are talking single-digit increases daily. It is the one and only area I had a degree of respect for Welsh Government in that they stuck to their guns, given the adoption of face coverings seems to have had little to no effect on England and Scotland’s epidemiological curves. Moreover, it has been 10 days without a COVID death in Wales. Either *better* people are getting it (younger, healthier people) or viral load is less meaning less fatal levels of infection.

However, should we follow the logic that these masks are absolutely essential to preventing the spread of the plague then what was the point in the Welsh Government’s dither and delay? It is one of the many scenarios that we have seen throughout the pandemic where the relations between the nations of the United Kingdom have been stretched to breaking point, and without good reason.

I cannot stand the imposition of face coverings, but what makes me more nauseous is the unnecessary divergence throughout the UK which has meant chaos and confusion for the people of these islands. We must do things differently when similar challenges present themselves.

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