The government and the National Public Health Emergency Team have urged members of the public to wear face coverings while using public transport or while in retail spaces such as shops or supermarkets. The advice came as An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last night confirmed that the country will enter Phase 1 of the gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions from this Monday, May 18.
Phase 1 will see the 5km travel radius remain in place but people will be allowed to meet with friends and family members from outside their own household, outdoors and in groups of four people or fewer with social distancing in place. Some businesses will reopen, including garden centres and other outdoor retail outlets.
The government has stressed the importance of the public not using surgical masks as face coverings in their day-to-day business, as this could lead to a shortage in masks for healthcare workers.
The measure is advisory and is not a legal requirement. Minister for Health Simon Harris appealed to the public not to judge people who do not wear a face covering, as this may be due to allergies or other health concerns. Children under the age of 13 are not advised to use face coverings.
The government has released videos demonstrating how to make and correctly wear a face covering at home using cotton fabric, elastic bands and a needle and thread.
As part of the gradual easing of restrictions in Phase 1, members of the public are being advised to use a face covering as an additional hygiene measure, when using busy public transport or when in enclosed indoor public areas such as retail outlets. https://t.co/nL3opCT5Ye pic.twitter.com/dbghKtA01b
— MerrionStreet.ie #StayAtHome (@merrionstreet) May 15, 2020
Leo Varadkar went on to say that it was his hope that Ireland could move into Phase 2 of the easing of restrictions in three weeks’ time but stressed that there was no guarantee of that happening.
“In three weeks’ time, I fervently hope to be here to announce that we will move to Phase 2,” Varadkar said.
“This depends on the progress we make between now and then. Nothing is guaranteed. The only thing that is inevitable is the spread of the virus unless we push it back every day.”
It is advised to wear a face covering in situations where social distancing is not possible such as shops or public transport.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) May 15, 2020