Govt expected to issue advisory on face coverings this week

The government is expected to issue new guidance advising people to wear face coverings in situations where social distancing is difficult.
Govt expected to issue advisory on face coverings this week
A woman in Cork city walks with her face covered. Picture: Dan Linehan

The government is expected to issue new guidance advising people to wear face coverings in situations where social distancing is difficult.

The move is expected to come later this week, after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recommended that the Scottish public should wear face masks in enclosed public spaces for example while shopping or using public transport.

The Taoiseach said today that although the issue is still under consideration, revised advice to the Irish public is expected this week.

The current advice from Ireland's Chief Medical Officer is that one should only wear a face covering when instructed to do so by a doctor.

"The issue of face covering, and I saw face covering and not a mask, as masks should be prioritised for medical staff, is under consideration at the moment," he said.

Likewise, Ms Sturgeon encouraged people to wear “something fairly basic – a scarf, bandana, cloth or textile”, and noted she was not asking the public to buy medical-grade face masks.

"We're seeing what's happening in other countries, but the science is equivocal on this, some people say it's a good idea, some people say it doesn't make a difference or it's a bad idea, it's not a straightforward decision where science says it the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do.

"There is a trend across the developed world now to advise the public to wear face coverings in places where social distancing is difficult, on public transport for instance or an enclosed indoor space, and we're aware of what Scotland and other European countries are doing, so it's still under consideration.

"We'll be able to offer revised advice to the Irish public later in the week, but because the science is so uncertain on this and there isn't agreement on the scientific agreement on this, it's not something we'd make compulsory, but maybe advisory."

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