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Leah Farrell/

Public guidance on wearing face-coverings 'in certain scenarios' due in next two weeks

Face coverings could possibly be advised for use while on public transport or in retail settings.

CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER Tony Holohan has said that public guidance on wearing face coverings in certain circumstances will be issued in the next two weeks as part of efforts to tackle coronavirus in Ireland. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team says there would be a need to protect supplies of healthcare grade masks if that policy was to be implemented.

Holohan last night said the use of face coverings, rather than medical-grade masks, could possibly be advised for use while on public transport or in retail settings. 

Speaking on the Late Late Show last night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar echoed Holohan’s comments and explained that the government was working on guidance about the wearing of face coverings, whose use will soon be advised in certain circumstances.

“The scientific community is divided on it… face coverings will be advised, not all the time, but in certain scenarios,” he said.

“For example, indoors in a shop, on public transport, in a crowded place or where social distancing may not be practical.”

Varadkar appeared on the chat show shortly after announcing a roadmap for a phased lifting of Covid-19 restrictions over the coming months. 

The plan – which will be kept under constant review – includes a detailed plan on social gatherings, including a staggered approach to allowing people to see family members outside their household again. 

From Tuesday, people will be allowed to travel up to 5km for the purposes of exercise while over 70s who have bene cocooning will be allowed to leave their homes to exercise or drive within a 5km radius. Other restrictions remain in place until 18 May, when the country will then begin to re-open in five stages, three weeks apart. 

The use of face coverings is advised during phase two – set to begin on 8 June- while people are visiting the homes of over-70s and the medically vulnerable.

During the short visits, people will have to wear gloves, face coverings and maintain social distancing. 

The European Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation have both advised that public wearing of face coverings may reduce spread of infection by the wearer on the basis of increasing evidence that infected persons with mild or no symptoms can contribute to the spread of Covid-19. 

The Taoiseach has previously said that the wearing of face coverings in public will not be compulsory if it is introduced.

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