The Government will not be mandating the use of face masks again and the public should instead “use a bit of common sense,” Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has said.
Since the beginning of March, the number of people in Irish hospitals who have contracted the virus doubled from 800 to 1,605 today. The upward trend prompted the President of the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine Fergal Hickey to urge people to start wearing masks again:
“Genuinely important that people do what they can,” he said.
“Now going back to wearing masks in indoor settings, on public transport, at indoor sports events, in retail - and generally trying to understand that their actions will have a significant impact on the healthcare system for better or for worse.
“So it’s really important that people go back to doing the things that we did.”
However, speaking to The Hard Shoulder Minister Humphreys ruled out making them mandatory again:
“Minister [for Health Stephen] Donnelly has said very clearly that the plan is not to introduce any new restrictions,” she said.
“And of course we have to remember that 60% of people in hospital don’t have a booster.
“So I think it’s important that people who haven’t got a booster go out and get it.
“As we know masks aren’t mandatory but it does make good sense to wear one when you’re indoors but again we can only encourage people to do that and if you’re in a crowded place or in a bus it’s obviously a good example of when you can wear a mask.
“But we’re leaving it up to people to make their own decisions and just to use a bit of common sense.”
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“I think people have to take responsibility for themselves here but I really would urge people that haven’t got the booster to go and do so… So it’s more important that they get the booster, first and foremost.”
Main image: A doctor wearing a face mask at the vaccination centre in The Helix, Dublin in March 2021. Picture by: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie