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Making face coverings a condition of using public transport 'is under consideration'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he would not like to see fines for those not wearing one.

A woman wears a mask getting onto a Luas tram in Dublin.
A woman wears a mask getting onto a Luas tram in Dublin.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said work is being done to look at making wearing a mask a pre-condition to travel on public transport.

Varadkar said that such an approach wouldn’t be “entirely straightforward” but would be examined nonetheless. He added however that he would not like to see a situation where people would be fined for not wearing one. 

The current government guidance on face coverings is that they are recommended in situations where it is difficult to practise social distancing, such as in shops or on public transport.

Despite this, there are many observational reports of people not adhering to this recommendation and a public information campaign about the benefits of wearing face coverings to combat the spread of Covid-19 is to begin next week. 

Varadkar told reporters today that requiring people to wear face coverings to avail of public transport is one option being looked at. 

“We are doing a little bit of work around the possibility of making it a condition of travel on public transport,” the Taoiseach said. 

But that’s not entirely straightforward, it requires a public consultation period and a few other things like that. There are transport by-laws or potentially you could do something under health regulations, so that is under consideration. 

“There are pluses and minuses to all of these things,” Varadkar added. 

“There are people who have breathing difficulties and find a mask very difficult to wear, requiring children to wear masks is particularly difficult. There are people with disabilities and other conditions who find it very difficult. I really don’t want to be in the position where we’re fining or arresting or prosecuting people for not wearing face masks and face coverings.”

Confused 

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Health Minister Simon Harris admitted that messaging on the issue of wearing face coverings has been “confused”.  

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Yesterday, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) advised that an information campaign be implemented to outline best practice for the use of face coverings.

Varadkar said that the campaign would begin next week and would emphasise “in an even stronger way” the messaging around face masks and other public health measures.

At a HSE briefing this morning, officials said the public should expect to hear radio ads starting from Monday with TV ads at a later stage. The delay in the beginning of TV ads is because they take longer to produce.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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