Gardaí to wear face masks at checkpoints and patrols but priority testing needed

The representative group for rank and file gardaí has welcomed confirmation that officers on patrol and at checkpoints will be issued face masks to wear, when required, but said a failure to provide priority Covid-19 testing shows “shocking disregard” to members of the force.
Gardaí to wear face masks at checkpoints and patrols but priority testing needed

The representative group for rank and file gardaí has welcomed confirmation that officers on patrol and at checkpoints will be issued face masks to wear, when required, but said a failure to provide priority Covid-19 testing shows “shocking disregard” to members of the force.

President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) Jim Mulligan welcomed clarification that gardaí on outdoor duties will be issued with face masks for use where social distancing cannot be maintained.

“The absence of face masks at checkpoints has been a cause of concern to the public. Now there is a protocol that says if a garda cannot stay two metres away from a vehicle, for instance on a narrow road, they should put on a facemask,” Mr Mulligan said.

A failure to prioritise Gardaí for Covid-19 testing, however, remains “unresolved” and shows a “shocking disregard” to members, the GRA President said.

The association said the Garda occupational health department should engage with the HSE to come to an agreement for the emergency testing of Gardaí following assaults, such as being spat at or other close interactions with individuals suspected of having Covid-19.

“Gardaí are wondering why they were never given priority testing considering so many other frontline workers are getting it.

"When you have been spat at by someone claiming to be Covid-19 infected, the risk of infection is clearly a lot higher.

"Yet under the current arrangements, gardaí must join the queue,” Mr Mulligan said.

“Turnaround times for the general population are not reliable, and therefore totally inappropriate.

"Currently, gardaí and their families face an anxious wait – and inconvenience – to find out if they have been infected with a deadly disease which may they have spread to family members – and colleagues.

"This shows a shocking disregard for our members and their families.”

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