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Mixed reaction from traders to hospitality face mask changes in Wales

LAST Friday, Mark Drakeford announced that face masks will no longer be required in hospitality settings in Wales from August 7, and we spoke with Penarth traders to get their reaction. 

In England, these are no longer mandatory in indoor settings. 

Wales is currently at alert level one – face coverings are mandatory in all indoor public places, but that is set to change on August 7. 

Those visiting restaurants, pubs, and cafes will no longer be required to wear face masks – unless otherwise told to by the business they are visiting. 

Natasha Rees, owner of St Fagan’s on Windsor Road, said she’s unsure how to feel about it. 

Penarth Times: Natasha Rees and her husband Gareth and sons Harley and CoreyNatasha Rees and her husband Gareth and sons Harley and Corey

“I think it needs to happen, but I don’t know whether we will just monitor it and try and maybe still do social distancing and still not allow the pub to get to full capacity. 

“It’s weird going from nothing to all of that, straight away.

“Obviously we can’t wait to go back to normal, don’t get me wrong, but with all these games that have been going on like the Euros with 60,000 people – has that just triggered something off that we don’t know about and is everyone going back to normal and the pubs going to make things worse?

“I really dont know.”

Last year, during the midst of the pandemic, Mrs Rees and and her husband Gareth and sons Harley and Corey were forced to leave the Station Hotel in Cogan at the end of July when owners Brains sold the premises.

A quick move to a new home in Penarth followed, and after spending a month away, the family got  back into the swing of things at St Fagan’s – and pandemic rules, so far, are all they’ve ever known for the pub. 

Alison Jones, owner of The Crepe Escape, also said she is currently ‘not sure’ what stance she will take regarding face masks. 

Penarth Times: Alison Jones Alison Jones

“It’s a really difficult one,” she added.

“Obviously, particularly in this weather at the moment, masks are really uncomfortable and really difficult for us to wear.

“But at the same time, it almost feels a bit scary to just take them away completely.

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“So, before August 7 we will do a risk assessment to decide.”

Molly Utting, manager of Brød – The Danish Bakery, said staff members will be continuing to wear masks.

Penarth Times: L-R: Terri Mokos and Molly Utting L-R: Terri Mokos and Molly Utting

“Some of our customers may not feel comfortable still.

“Our immediate reaction was to just carry on as normal, as cases are still quite high. 

“So we will still wear masks. We will just have to see how it goes. 

“But I think, we will go down the route of still asking customers to wear them inside.”

Pub group JD Wetherspoon, which has a branch on Windsor Road – The Bears Head – has said it will relax its face mask and table service rules for customers on July 19.

The group, which runs 860 sites across the UK, said it will revert back to “successful measures” it had in place last summer upon the latest relaxation of restrictions.

The pub giant said it will allow customers to order at the bar again, although it will encourage people to use its app for ordering meals and drinks to reduce contact.

It said face masks will not be enforced and customers and staff “will be able to wear them at their discretion.”

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