COVID-19: Public to get guidance on making their own face masks

The Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that the public will be given guidance on how to use face...

11.48 12 May 2020

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COVID-19: Public to get guidan...

COVID-19: Public to get guidance on making their own face masks


11.48 12 May 2020

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The Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that the public will be given guidance on how to use face masks – and how to make them – later this week.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) discussed the use of face coverings at its meeting today.

Their official advice on using them effectively when social distancing is not possible will be issued to Government later this week.


Coronavirus COVID-19 People wear antivirus masks to protect themselves from Coronavirus at St. Peter's Square in Rome, 26-02-2020. Image: Pacific Press/SIPA USA/PA Images

Speaking at the COVID-19 briefing this evening, Dr Tony Holohan said people may be advised on how to make their own.

“We will be doing practical communications about what the nature of a face covering is and how people might be in a position to, in some cases, make those for themselves.

“These are things that you will have seen probably on the internet and in other countries and so on and there are lots of examples of that available for people to see.

“But probably more importantly there will be guidance for people to use them.”

Earlier, the Health Minister SImon Harris said the masks would not become mandatory as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.


“There are kind of mixed scientific views on whether face masks are effective or not outside of the health setting but it is going to be an element of our plan going forward and I think we are going to have more guidance on that later today,” he said.

Mask Health Minister Simon Harris at the official opening of a COVID-19 Assessment Hub at the Mater Hospital, 08-05-2020. Image: Julian Behal Photography

The next phase of the Government’s roadmap for reopening the economy is due to kick in next Monday, May 18th and Minister Harris said he is ‘very hopeful’ restrictions can be eased as planned.

“As you know, what we do is, we take our advice from NPHET, the group the chaired by the Chief Medical Officer,” he said.

“They will meet twice this week specifically on the virus and what advice they want to give to Government in relation to easing of restrictions.

“I am very hopeful that we will be able to kick off some easing of restrictions next week. It is not guaranteed but I am very hopeful in that regard.”

The Taoiseach has previously said that while the public may be advised to wear face coverings in some situations, nobody would be forced to wear one.

COVID-19 Coronavirus A couple wearing face masks walk on Marques de Larios street in Malaga, 08-05-2020. Image: SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images

On Newstalk Breakfast however, Professor Gerry Killeen, research chair in applied pathogen ecology at University College Cork (UCC) said they should be made mandatory.

"I think they've been recommended as an essential part of a response to a pandemic of any kind of respiratory illness from the outset.

"It's really not a question of whether we need them - the question is, how can we do things faster and better with the resources we have available?"

"I can understand the rationale of conserving high-quality masks for medical staff and other frontliners who are at high risk themselves.

"But also because they make contact with so many other people".

"That part of the rationale I completely agree with".

"The key part of the mask is not to protect yourself.... the primary function is actually to protect others".

"We can all keep our masks on in the shop for 30 minutes or on our commute to work".

COVID-19: Public to get guidance on making their own face masks

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It comes as reports say Gardaí will be given the power to check up on passengers arriving in Ireland from overseas, under new COVID-19 restrictions being considered by the Government.

According to the Irish Independent, Gardaí may call to passengers' homes to make sure they are in self-isolation for two weeks.

Infectious disease specialist with the the Royal Colleges of Surgeons, Professor Sam McConkey, is in favour of the proposal.

"I think it's a good idea - I think protecting our borders and protecting the re-importation of lots of COVID-19 from other countries is getting more and more important.

"As we've got the numbers down now in our own country, really we have to increasingly focus on not having it reintroduced".

And Health Minister Simon Harris has said he wants to see new laws to underpin any such measures.

"I do think we need to take further measures to toughen up at our airports and ports.

"We already have the form you've got to fill in, you can be contacted to check that you are self-isolating - but I'd like to underpin this by regulations so that it is the law of the land.

"It's tricky, it's not easy but I don't think it's impossible either".

Main image: A woman wearing a face mask in Dublin city centre. Picture by: Sam Boal/

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