Donnelly does not see Gardaí being needed to enforce wearing of face masks in shops

Donnelly does not see Gardaí being needed to enforce wearing of face masks in shops
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD during a Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that he does not envisage the Gardaí being called upon to enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks in shops and shopping centres.

There has not been a need for the Gardaí to be involved with the enforcement of masks on public transport so he did not see why they would be necessary in shops.

“They will be the last port of call,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

The vast majority of people are already wearing masks in shops, he said. 

“Inevitably people will forget, but we have got to build it (wearing masks) into our habits.” 

Mr Donnelly said that the focus has to be on keeping people safe, ensuring the reopening of schools and getting the economy open again.

The Government had to take a cautious approach. It was disappointing not to move to Phase 4, but they were doing it to keep the country safe, he said.

Mr Donnelly said that his concern was that “things are very finely balanced and could get out of control. We have to avoid that.” 

A member of the public wearing a facemask. 
A member of the public wearing a facemask. 

When asked about the possibility of the easing of restrictions on a regional or county by county basis. He said that he hoped that in time things could be done differently. 

“We are looking closely at that.

“This is a dynamic situation and the Government has to respond dynamically.” 

The Minister said that Nphet had been unanimous and unambiguous in its advice which was based on evidence and the international evidence was that when pubs opened up the virus spread.

Last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed that Phase 4 of the country's road to recovery has been pushed back to August 31.

This means that pubs who do not serve food will not be able to open until at least that date.

Indoor and outdoor gathering numbers also remain unchanged, and GAA match attendance figures will remain at 200.

Attendance at indoor events such as weddings remains capped at 50 people, while all pubs and restaurants serving food must now close at 11pm every evening.

On the issue of sporting events and the limit on numbers attending despite the huge capacity of some stadia, Mr Donnelly explained that there was no issue during the game, but what happened before and after the game, people travelling together in cars to the game and congregating before and after.

The reopening of schools was still on course, he said. That remained the Government’s core focus, he added.

Meanwhile, the former Director-General of the HSE has said that secondary school students should have to wear masks in the classroom.

Tony O'Brien believes it makes sense to ask students to wear masks when they return to school.

“They’re going to need to wear masks to travel to school on public transport,” he said.

“And then when they are in situations that are likely to be equally crowded, they’ll not be required to wear them."

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