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Face masks on public transport to become compulsory from next week

Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced the new measure this afternoon.

Image: RollingNews.ie

NEW REGULATIONS MAKING the wearing of face masks and face coverings on public transport compulsory are set to come into effect from Monday.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that the regulations will be signed into law this evening.

However, it is not expected that gardaí will have power to enforce the laws from Monday, although the government is aiming to give them the ability to do so.

The government signalled last month that the use of face coverings on public transport would become mandatory, following criticism that passengers on trains, buses and the Luas were not using face coverings while travelling.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Martin said that the law requiring masks to be worn would enforce compliance with current guidance.

“If you look back at our whole experience with Covid-19, it’s really been about developing compliance and engagement, and people have come with us on a journey and with the authorities,” he said.

“But it will be clear in the regulations, the National Transport Authority will have the authority and the capacity to say to people ‘you may not come on if you don’t have or if you’re not wearing a mask’.

“And if people persist in disobeying then the gardaí can be called. We don’t envisage that having to be necessary.”

However, speaking on Drivetime on RTÉ Radio One this evening, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said it was not expected that gardaí will have powers to enforce the new regulations from Monday.

She revealed that the Department of Justice is still working on giving gardaí such powers.

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“We’re working to ensure that they will have those powers, but we don’t want a situation where gardaí have to use them,” she said.

McEntee added that the move followed correspondence to government from members of the public, who said they were worried about using public transport because they felt people were not complying with the guideline to wear masks.

“We haven’t seen the level of compliance that we would like,” she said. “So what will happen is that if people are not wearing masks, they won’t be able to get on public transport.”

With reporting from Michelle Hennessy.

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