Big trade union disagrees with Government on Covid-19 public transport mask 'advisory'

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

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Mask have some impact on Covid-19 spread

Ireland's biggest trade union SIPTU wants people to be forced to wear masks on public transport as the Covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

SIPTU's transport representatives called for the mandatory introduction of face masks for passengers using public bus, rail and tram services. They said that its members are disappointed at the announcement by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, that the Government is to issue an ‘advisory notice’ to the public to wear face coverings.

“It very disappointing, to say the least, that today’s advice is advisory and not mandatory for those using public transport. We wrote to the National Transport Authority and the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, on the 27th April calling for the introduction of mandatory face covering for passengers. This correspondence was copied to all public transport operators as they have a responsibility under Health and Safety legislation to protect their employees.

“Public transport workers are frontline essential workers and their safety and that of their families must be afforded every protection possible to allow them to continue to provide a service. The union will again contact transport operators to seek their support for the mandatory use of face coverings for all public service passengers,” said the statement.

The Taoiseach said masks would not be made mandatory as the lockdown eases. He said the Government had decided that wearing masks or face coverings would instead be advised in shops and public transport.

Dr Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer, said the there is not sufficient evidence to show that masks should be mandatory. He said they are not a magic bullet and can be counterproductive if not worn or used correctly.