A national scheme should be rolled out to identify people unable to wear facemasks due to underlying health issues so they won't be repeatedly quizzed by shop staff and run the risk of verbal abuse.
The Department of Health and HSE are being urged it to deploy a scheme similar to one in Britain known as the Hidden Disability Sunflower Lanyard Initiative.
Fine Gael councillor Eileen Lynch got unanimous backing from her Cork County Council colleagues when she proposed to write to the department and HSE to consider the move.
“The provision of lanyards or wristbands would make it easier to identify those who cannot comply with the wearing of face masks due to medical reasons and ease their potential anxiety about not being able to wear masks,” Ms Lynch said.
She said she had been contacted by many constituents who are unable to wear masks in public due to underlying health conditions and, as a result, they are left feeling vulnerable and anxious when out in public as well as facing hostility from fellow shoppers and shop staff.
Trio are thrilled to be joining the Hidden Disabilities @sunflwrlanyards scheme - an important initiative to improve awareness and support for people with hidden disabilities. Keep an eye out for how to get your Sunflower Lanyard from us! #sunflowerlanyard #HiddenDisabilities pic.twitter.com/ZvEQaU63yr— Trio Ostomy Care (@TrioOstomyCare) September 13, 2019
“Unfortunately, as we are all aware there are many refusing to wear masks in public as a means of protest, but there are also those who cannot wear masks due to underlying health conditions and it is important that these two groups would not be considered the same in the eyes of the public,” she said.
“The introduction of a scheme similar to the Hidden Disability Sunflower Lanyard initiative would provide a way to give a silent message to retailers that certain individuals are not wearing a mask as they are unable to due to health reasons,” Ms Lynch added.
She said she wanted the HSE to roll out this scheme as soon as possible in our communities by liaising with some affected patient groups such as the Irish Heart Foundation, Irish Lung foundation or AsIAm. Ms Lynch said the scheme could effectively be rolled out in pharmacies by linking up with the Irish Pharmacy Union.
Her motion was seconded by Fine Gael councillor Kay Dawson who said it would once and for all help to distinguish between those who have underlying health issues and those who simply couldn't be bothered to wear facemasks.
“This would be a huge easing of the burden on those people who simply are unable to wear them,” added Independent councillor Marcia D'Alton.
Mayor of County Cork, Independent councillor Mary Linehan-Foley said they would write to the Department and HSE on the issue.