Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.24 3 Oct 2020


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Face visors and shields should not be used by staff in bars and restaurants unless they're worn alongside a face mask, a doctor has said.

Dr Ronan Boland says such visors "really have no useful place" other than protecting somebody's eyes when used in addition to another face covering.

After the country reopened after lockdown, visors have become a common sight - particularly in the hospitality sector and shops.

Some staff and managers may feel the shields are more comfortable to wear over an extended period of time than a face mask.

However, Dr Boland - a GP in Cork and former president of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) - told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh that the visors simply don't offer enough protection.

He said: "There isn't any debate among my medical colleagues... there's a clear understanding at this stage that face masks or coverings, which cover your nose and mouth, offer much greater protection to the people that surround you.

"They also provide much greater protection to yourself, than visors or shields do.

"Visors or shields really have no useful place, other than in protecting your eyes used in addition to a face mask. They're designed primarily for use in healthcare settings, because of splash-back episodes where viruses or other infected agents can get into your eyes."

'Not designed as a standalone'

Dr Boland said the shields are not designed as a standalone face protection, and "really should not be used" as such - particularly in restaurants, bars and shops where people are handling or preparing good.

He suggested: "They have the potential, in fact, to make matters worse - in terms of propelling your breath downwards on the customer who's seated below you, or onto the food you're preparing."

Dr Boland said the science is 'catching up' in relation to the issue, and acknowledged that there has been confusion among the public about it.

He said: "I understand that NPHET are actively discussing this at the moment.

"It is my fervent hope - and a hope I think would be shared by my colleagues - that the HSE will give clearer guidance to everybody, but most especially those working in the hospitality sector in terms of what they should be doing to protect their own staff and customers."

He suggested that restaurateurs, publicans and other employers should "not just encourage, but almost insist" that staff wear proper face coverings, unless there's a very good reason otherwise.

Main image: Doctor holding a face visor. Picture by: Britta Pedersen/DPA/PA Images

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