The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has said it is a “no-brainer” to make face masks compulsory on buses and trains.
It comes after an infectious disease expert called for them to be made mandatory on public transport.
Currently, social distancing measures are in place on buses and trains; however, there are concerns over a lack of capacity with the number of passengers set to increase from next week.
NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary told Newstalk Breakfast on Newstalk radio it should not be left up to unions or transport operators to make a decision on masks.
He said the National Public Health Emergency Team must step up and make the recommendation.
“Indeed, we put a submission into the Oireachtas committee on Covid over the last few days where we appealed to the committee to help us make a decision and not to have the unions involved in making that decision,” he said.
“It shouldn’t be a decision for unions to make on behalf of society at large.
This is a public health issue. We have said that long and hard now at this stage and it is for the public health officials to make that decision on behalf of all society.
The UK is making masks mandatory on public transport from mid-June.
On The Pat Kenny Show on the same radio station this morning, infectious disease specialist Professor Jack Lambert said making masks mandatory would be a “sensible solution.”
“Social distancing and blocking out 70% of the public transport seats, whether it is a train or a bus, is not a sustainable solution for reopening the economy,” he said.
“Face masks, in my opinion, is the most important issue so if you had to compromise something.
I would put more people on the bus and have 100% of them wear a mask.
“Then you should have handwashing facilities on the bus or in the community to add to the safety – none of that is in place at the current time.
“Social distancing is not the only solution and that is the only message we seem to be getting from the government. I don’t think it is enough. It is not practical.”