Masks must be worn by bus and train passengers in Ireland in fight against Covid-19 

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

Mask must be worn by bus and train passengers in Ireland in fight against Covid-19 

New Covid-19 laws obliging people on buses, trains and other public transport to wear a face mask travel come into force from Monday, July 13. 

Months after bus and train drivers demanded mandatory masks, the new Government has given the green light to the measure.

Anyone who refuses to do so and does not have a 'reasonable excuse' not to can be forced to leave the bus or train. Not wearing a mask is an offence on under the law.

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has signed the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (Face Coverings on Public Transport) Regulations 2020 for the mandatory wearing of face-covering on public transport unless they have a reasonable excuse not to wear one or does not have to wear a mask.

Reasonable excuse includes where a person

  • Cannot put one on, wear or remove a face covering because of any physical or mental illness, impairment or disability or without severe distress.
  • Needs to communicate with another person who has difficulties communicating.
  • Removes the face covering to provide emergency assistance or to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person.
  • Removes the face covering to take medication.  
     

The Regulations do not apply to children under the age of 13. 

Where a passenger is not wearing a face covering, a relevant person under the Regulations may request the passenger to wear a face covering, refuse the passenger entry to the public transport vehicle, or may request the passenger to alight from the vehicle. 

A passenger must comply with these requests or with a refusal of entry. Failure to comply is an offence. MORE BELOW VIDEO.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronan Glynn, said people must be conscious of how to wear a mask.

“When wearing a face covering, ensure your hands are clean before putting on and removing. Do not touch the front of the covering, instead apply and remove the covering using the ear loops. If you require a number of coverings as you go about your day, store used coverings in a plastic, zip lock bag until you can wash them at 60 degrees.

“It is important to be aware that some members of the public are unable to wear face coverings due to health reasons or age and should not be criticised or judged for this.

“Ensure you are familiar with the appropriate use and disposal of face coverings through reputable sources such as gov.ie/health or hse.ie.”

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, said the measure is needed to protect the public.

“Mandatory wearing of face coverings on public transport will not only protect staff and passengers alike, but reinforce the need for all of us to embrace new habits during this pandemic. Physical distancing, hand washing, cough/sneeze etiquette and face coverings are small, individual measures that can make a significant difference to many lives.

“The wearing of face coverings in appropriate settings is a sign of solidarity to your friends and family, your health service and their staff who continue to be at the frontline of this crisis and solidarity to your country as we all continue in our efforts to suppress this disease,” he said.

Wearing a face covering is recommended in situations where social distancing is not possible, for example shops and busy public transport, or if you are meeting someone who is vulnerable to the virus, for example people who are cocooning. Wearing cloth face coverings may help prevent people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it to others. 

Wearing of face coverings is recommended in the following circumstances:

  1. when staying 2 metres apart from people is difficult - for example, in shops, shopping centres or public transport
  2. by people visiting the homes of those who are cocooning
  3. by people who are being visited in their homes by those who are cocooning
     

People wearing face coverings are still advised to do the important things necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

These include:

  • washing your hands properly and often
  • covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
  • not touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • social distancing (keeping at least 2 metres away from other people)

Cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13 and anyone who:

  • has trouble breathing
  • is unconscious or incapacitated
  • is unable to remove it without help
  • has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face-covering
    More below video 

Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, said;

 “As we work to safely reopen society, the number of people using public transport will increase. While I am aware that there has been a good response to the wearing of face coverings on public transport services, we need to ensure that everyone complies, with the exception of those who cannot do so for health reasons or due to young age. The mandatory wearing of face coverings will play an important role in ensuring that those who need to travel can do so safely. This is something we can all easily do to help control the virus and protect one another.”

More guidance on the appropriate use of face coverings is available here.