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2. Principles for safe urban centres and green spaces

Owners and operators of public places should take into account the latest advice on social distancing from the Welsh Government when identifying key issues in urban centres and green spaces.

Account should also be taken of the difference in risk of transmission in an enclosed open space (such as an indoor shopping mall) to open air pedestrianised spaces and open green spaces.

The virus is unstable and does not transmit as easily in outdoor environments and is rapidly inactivated by heat and sunlight. However, the corollary is that the virus is likely to survive for longer in cooler, indoor environments particularly where people gather closely together.

With this in mind control measures should be more stringent in indoor environments for example the application for frequent and thorough disinfection of hand contact surfaces.

2.1 Social distancing

In Wales the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (as amended) require businesses/services that are open to the public and employers in the management of workspaces to take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons.

Social distancing is also required with regards to ‘other open spaces’.

Guidance for the public is to maintain 2 metres distance from others (outside of your immediate household).

Further measures that may be taken if social distancing cannot be reasonably maintained at all times is specified in the workplace guidance and may vary depending on circumstances.

2.2 Protecting people who are at higher risk

Individuals who are shielding (and have been advised they are included within the extremely vulnerable group) have been given specific advice to help protect themselves. People who are clinically vulnerable and may be at higher risk of severe illness (for example, people with some underlying medical conditions, see guidance in Appendix) have been advised to take extra care in observing social distancing. This guidance is under regular review.

Links to further guidance can be found in the Appendix.

2.3 Face coverings

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you. However, if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.

Face coverings do not replace social distancing. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough and/or high temperature and/or anosmia – loss of taste and smell), you and your household must isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this.

Links to further guidance can be found in the Appendix.

2.4 Cleaning

Owners and operators are advised to implement cleaning protocols and disinfection to limit coronavirus transmission in public places. It is advised that touch points (e.g. handrails and gates) should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning.

Some buildings may be multi-tenant consisting of shops and other business premises, often including offices.  Cleaning and maintenance regimes should ensure hygiene at intercom buzzer entry; stairs, elevator and escalator contact points; communal spaces and toilet facilities.  

Links to further guidance can be found in the Appendix.

2.5 Hygiene

To help everyone maintain good hygiene, consideration should be given to:

  • Sufficient and accessible provision of automated hand sanitising dispensers in public places.
  • Where possible, providing disposable hand towels as an alternative to hand dryers in handwashing facilities.
  • Using signs and messages to build awareness of good handwashing technique and other respiratory hygiene behaviours, e.g. around coughing and sneezing in public places.
  • Configuration of toilet facilities (including accessible toilet provision) to ensure they are kept clean, with social distancing achieved as far as possible and with best practice handwashing followed. Where supervision is not possible clear signage with simple messages should be used: don’t use them if you have symptoms of COVID-19, use them, wash your hands and leave promptly, avoid unnecessary touching of internal surfaces, fixtures and fittings.
  • Shopping malls, retail parks – may require supervision, at least in the initial stages, to ensure public are adhering to social distancing and to restrict the number of people using the facility.  There would need to be regular disinfection of hand contact surfaces.
  • Training of any personnel involved in delivering the measures will be key to ensure they understand and can communicate local guidance effectively and positively. Also to ensure that the way rules are implemented do not have a disproportionate, negative impact on those who share protected characteristics.
  • Provision of more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish and recycling collection in public places.
  • Minimising use of portable toilets.
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection for facilities that are heavily used.


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