Face masks may be made mandatory on public transport again 5 months ago

Face masks may be made mandatory on public transport again

HSE Chief Paul Reid made the suggestion following an increase in Covid cases across the country.

Face masks could once again be made mandatory on public transport as Covid cases surge across the country.

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HSE Chief Paul Reid made the suggestions while speaking to the Irish Examiner on Monday (20 June).

“Yes, I think any time we get a trend like we’re getting at the moment it has to trigger considerations for reduced transmission,” Reid explained.

“We’re strongly watching what’s happening. Our immediate priority is hospital cases, which are significantly rising."

2,742 positive PCR tests were reported last Wednesday (15 June), with a further 1,960 positive antigens submitted.

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For comparison, at the peak of the pandemic, 26,122 cases were confirmed by PCR in a single day in January 2022.

Paul Reid isn't alone in thinking that masks may make a return, as Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly hinted at the measure over the weekend.

“Is it possible that I could get a recommendation for public transport or for retail, yes, we do recommend now that we move to mandatory mask-wearing for a short period of time? You couldn’t rule that out,” Donnelly told the Sunday Independent over the weekend.

Some medical professionals have been calling for a return to public health measures since March, with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) releasing a joint statement in March saying that their members felt "like they have been thrown to the wolves".

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"The situation at present is intolerable for all who work in our hospitals," said IAEM President Fergal Hickey.

"Our hospitals have been hanging together by a thread of goodwill of staff but that is about to snap."

There are currently 606 confirmed cases in hospitals as of Monday (20 June), with 23 patients in ICU.

This is in comparison with 2,020 cases in January 2021, with 221 patients in intensive care.

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin ruled out a return to mask mandates in response to the joint statement from the INMO and IAEM in March.

"Suggesting that if we just brought in masks or something, that we could change all that, just doesn't cut it," Martin said.