The move would mean capacity on public transport could be increased to 50 per cent.
Today, Minister for Transport Shane Ross will bring a memo to Cabinet that would make face coverings mandatory on public transport.
This move would allow the government to ease the two metre distancing restrictions and increase public transport capacity to 50 per cent. As more businesses open and people return to work, the near-empty public transport that is running throughout the country is expected to get much busier.
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There is cross-party support for such a move, with Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesman Marc MacSharry telling RTÉ News that “If compulsory use of masks increases much needed capacity on public transport – both commercial and State-run – it is a welcome development.”
He did however point out that young children and those who could not wear masks for medical reasons would need to be considered.
Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly agreed with the move, but warned that there needed to be an adequate and affordable supply of masks for the public before such restrictions were implemented.
This move comes as the latest development in the public’s relationship to masks during the pandemic. At the beginning when PPE supplies were low, we were told that masks weren’t necessary, so vital supplies wouldn’t be depleted, but as the crisis has gone on, evidence that shows how masks slow the rate of transmission has emerged.
Luckily, Irish designers and makers have been selling masks for months, so you have plenty of options to protect yourself and others. Whether you want one with a matching headband, one that cares for environment, are looking for kids’ masks, or are handy with a sewing machine and want to make one yourself, there’s plenty of choice.
There have recently been calls for the government to encourage the wearing of masks more, as public uptake of advice to wear masks in situations where it is not always possible to remain two metres apart, especially inside, has not thought to have been taken up widely. This move will perhaps normalise the sight of masks for more people.
Featured image: Adam Niescioruk via Unsplash
Read more: Opinion: ‘Why aren’t we taking face masks seriously in Ireland?’
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