Harris asks public not to 'clock up contacts'; NTA encourages face coverings in Phase Two of reopening

Health Minister Simon Harris has today issued a plea to the Irish people not to "clock up contacts" in Phase 2 of the reopening of the country's economy.
Harris asks public not to 'clock up contacts'; NTA encourages face coverings in Phase Two of reopening

Additional reporting: Paul Hosford

Health Minister Simon Harris has today issued a plea to the Irish people not to "clock up contacts" in Phase 2 of the reopening of the country's economy.

The ongoing process is set to continue from this Monday, with many non-essential retail outlets in cities and towns around the country opening their doors with staggered operating hours.

Speaking on NewsTalk radio today, Minister Harris says people don't need to rush to the shops, as they will remain open:

"So, the shop that opens on Monday, will be open again on Tuesday, open again Wednesday and open again next Monday.

"We don't need to rush there at once, and when we do go there, we need to keep our social distance, keep our face coverings on, because I am concerned that there needs to be a greater use of them, particularly on public transport.

"We don't need to clock up loads of close contacts, because of the new cases in Ireland, we do know that 60% of them are from close contacts."

On the matter of public transport, the National Transport Authority will be running a campaign encouraging users to wear face coverings on their journeys.

Pre-Covid services of trains and buses are to be restored from Monday morning, with people asked not to use them during peak hours.

The World Health Organisation has changed its guidance on face coverings, saying they should be worn in shops and public transport.

NTA CEO Anne Graham spoke today about the upcoming campaign:

"We're going to run a campaign this weekend, to encourage people to wear their face coverings.

"I think as more people wear them, others will be encouraged to wear them also.

"I have to start doing so myself, and I'd encourage using public transport to do so as well."

The warnings come as government has announced it is accelerating Ireland’s progress through the roadmap for reopening society in a bid to kick-start the economy and “save summer”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed that from Monday, the country will be in “phase two plus” and he said there will now be four phases of the plan instead of the initial five, with Ireland’s economy set to be almost fully open by July 20.

However, certain things, such as weddings, will not return until the autumn, Mr Varadkar warned.

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