Wales to introduce two-metre social distancing law for places of work

The Welsh Government will introduce a law compelling all employers to make sure their workers keep two metres apart, Wales’ First Minister has said.

Mark Drakeford said the social distancing legislation, the first in the UK, would require bosses to “put the needs of their workforce first” when it comes into force on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

At the Welsh Government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, the First Minister said the new law was in response to people in Wales saying they were fearful their health was being compromised in the workplace.

Mr Drakeford said: “We are going to put into law the two-metre requirement in the workplace, requiring employers to take all reasonable actions to comply with that two-metre rule.

“It’s been advice up until now, and now it’s going to be part of the regulations.

“We will publish fresh guidance alongside the regulations, and the regulations we will pass today will come into force on Monday evening or Tuesday morning.

“It is simply saying to employers they must put the needs of their workforce first, that their health and wellbeing must be top of their agenda, and the two-metre rule is there to protect that.

“But if they take all reasonable actions and comply with the guidance we’re giving them their business can continue. This is not about stopping business from operating, it’s about business operating in a way that is safe for their employees.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said the new law would extend current social distancing laws which are currently in place for essential food-buying locations such as supermarkets.

Institute of Directors Wales director Robert Lloyd Griffiths said: “Employers have a duty of care to their people, and should be doing what they can to help stop the spread of the virus. These are unprecedented times, and directors are having to react quickly, so it’s important firms have the support and clear guidance in place to put these rules into practice.”

Unison Wales regional secretary Tanya Palmer said: “Every employer has a duty to keep their staff safe and it’s important for all of us to follow government advice on Covid-19.

“People need to do everything they can to stay healthy and out of hospital so our healthcare workers can concentrate on those most severely affected by the virus.”