53% of people have said they are prepared to wear a mask in a public setting amid a surging number of flu and COVID cases.
As of 3.30pm on 4th January, 8,074 people had voted in a poll available on Newstalk's website and social media platforms.
Just before Christmas, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ruled out a return to compulsory masks but said that it would be a good idea if people wore them regardless.
“We are encouraging people to use masks in crowd settings - particularly, for example, on public transport,” he said.
“[We’re] very much saying to people that if you have respiratory symptoms, you should stay at home until they are resolved and also really encouraging people who haven’t taken the flu or COVID vaccine to do so.”
On Tuesday, there were a record 931 people waiting on hospital trolleys and Lunchtime Live listener Jane said people should show some initiative.
“These peaks of the virus are going to continue for a while,” she said.
“So when there’s a peak and when the hospitals get into trouble, we need to act in some way.
“We can’t be expecting politicians to be doing things. There’s a kind of personal responsibility as well.
“If you’re in a crowded area… I think a mask is a sensible thing. It’s just my opinion.”
Another listener, Gale, said it should be considered a matter of common courtesy to those around you.
“I would not get on public transport without wearing my mask,” she said.
“There are people coughing and sneezing all over the place and most of them are so ill mannered, they’re not covering their nose or their mouth and they wonder why the infections are up and everything else.
“We all had to do it in the recent times, so I’m sure everybody has masks at homes.”
However, not all listeners agreed.
“Elderly people found it very hard to breathe,” Beatrice argued.
“Also, there’s a major problem with people throwing the masks on the ground and they end up in the water system, which is destroying our water system.”
Scientists are clear that wearing a mask in an enclosed space does reduce the transmission of a respiratory disease.
“The reality is that masks don’t work 100%,” UCD Professor of Medicine and Infectious Disease Dr Jack Lambert said.
“But they prevent the spread of respiratory viruses and there’s lots of respiratory viruses that have increased in the recent past from flu, RSV and more importantly COVID-19,” he said.
“So, I think it’s a way to minimise the transmission.”
Main image: Passengers wearing face masks are pictured on the Luas in Dublin in September 2020. Picture by: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie