Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.06 9 Jul 2020


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The co-leader of the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall has said Ireland's current system of dealing with the coronavirus is "the worst of all worlds".

She told Pat Kenny that mixed advice early on about wearing face coverings has meant the majority of people are not wearing them.

And she said the lack of clarity for people coming into Ireland has seen tourists travel around, most likely without any isolation.

"Apart from face masks the other thing is ensuring that we limit the potential for the importation of the virus.

"We've got it down to very low levels here, and that's wonderful, but we can't have a situation where really anybody can come into the country and move around.

"At the moment, with the kind of regime that's in operation, it's the worst of all worlds.

"There's no distinction being made between those countries that are safe for travel back and forth, and those countries that are highly dangerous."

She added: "There are plenty of Americans travelling around the country, and we don't know whether they have been in isolation or not - the likelihood is, I think, that they haven't.

"And that's why it's so important to have very clear guidelines, and for the Government to distinguish between those countries that are safe and produce that green list quickly.

"But also, then, have restrictions on people coming from countries that have high levels of the virus, and that's the only way we're going to keep it out of this country".

On the wearing of face coverings, she said: "The messaging from Government and from health authorities has been extremely confusing for people.

"From the early days where we were told it was advisable to wear masks, and then some health officials saying the cloth masks weren't worth anything, then we were told that everybody over 60 should wear a medical grade mask.

"Yet you look around and there's a very low level of compliance.

"I think that's down to the fact that the messages have been so mixed on this.

"There are three different types of masks that are being advised: there's the cloth one - and many people are making their own at home - there's the PPE one which is worn in hospital settings, and then there's what's called medical face masks - these blue and white ones.

"Again people were advised not be using those, they needed to be saved for frontline health workers.

"But suddenly, then, these are available in every corner shop and in supermarkets.

"I've been inquiring into this just recently, and there are no standards set on those whatsoever.

"So nobody is looking at quality mark or anything in relation to those masks.

"They seem to be the most commonly worn around, you see them a lot, and we don't know anything about the quality of them.

"And of course they're also going to lead to a very big mountain of waste.

"So I think there's a lot of confusion about masks, and the result of that is that there's a very low level of compliance".

"If that requires a mandatory element to it, well then that's what is required.

"We were told last week in relation to public transport that the wearing of masks would be mandatory - we still haven't seen the regulations to support that".

'It's the worst of all worlds' - Ireland's current system for preventing COVID-19 spread

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Main image: Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall wearing a face mask as she arrives at Leinster House in Dublin. Picture by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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American Tourists Coronavirus Covid-19 Face Masks Facemasks Green List Ireland Public Transport Roisin Shortall Social Democrats Tourists Travel

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