Just a quarter of people in Ireland say theye wear facemasks in shops but 80% of people wear them on buses and trains according to the latest official Covid-19 research which also shows that the majority of people think there will be a second wave of coronavirus infections.
The results of the weekly survey conducted on behalf of the Department of Health shows 55% of the population now self-report to wearing face coverings.
The nationally representative sample of 1,900 people conducted on behalf of the Department reveals the following:
- 81% of people who use public transport say they wear a face covering every time with 13% saying they wear a face most of the time.
- 26% of people say they wear a face covering every time they are shopping and 29% say they wear a face covering most of the time when shopping.
- More than three quarters (78%) think that there will be a second wave – up 30% since June.
- 38% of the population now believe the worst of the pandemic is ahead of us with 33% believing that is behind us.
Dr Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, responded to the research.
“Our research shows that 38% of the population now believe the worst of the pandemic is ahead of us. This does not have to be the case. Simple measures like hand washing, physical distancing, face coverings in appropriate settings, cough/sneeze etiquette and watching out for symptoms are the crucial elements in suppressing COVID-19,” he said.
CEO of the National Transport Authority, Anne Graham, urged people using pubic transport to wear masks.
“The clear and consistent message is that face coverings on public transport make journeys safer for passengers and for workers. This Regulation will increase people’s confidence in public transport and encourage more people back on to our buses, trams and trains.
“The take-up of face coverings on public transport in recent weeks has been encouraging and we would like to thank those customers for responding so positively.
“The signing of this Regulation will enable us to get the message out loud and clear that everybody must now wear a face covering. A major part of our focus this week is on education, awareness and giving our passengers every encouragement to comply.
“We are asking people to do the right thing and exercise their personal responsibility. My mask protects you. Your mask protects me,” she said.
Mask wearing regulations on pubic transport will be in place until the 5th of October and mean that all passengers, with some exceptions, will now be required to wear face coverings, thereby providing additional protection to both passengers and drivers. However, public health advice also makes clear that face coverings are not suitable for everyone, and for this reason, the regulations provide for instances where customers have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering, including where they:
- cannot put one on, wear or remove a face covering because of any physical or mental illness, impairment or disability or without severe distress
- need to communicate with another person who has difficulties communicating
- remove the face covering to provide emergency assistance or to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
- remove the face covering to take medication
Children under the age of 13 are not required to wear a face covering. It is important to state 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. The National Transport Authority (NTA) is engaging with public transport operators regarding the implementation of the Regulations.
The NTA is also making arrangements for an easy and discreet way for vulnerable people who have a reasonable excuse for not wearing a face-covering to communicate this with relevant public transport staff. It will be a voluntary arrangement for passengers who wish to use it, and will be similar to the recently-introduced JAM (just a minute) card.
The Regulations are implementable by a “relevant person” who is defined as any officer, employee or agent of a public transport operator or of the National Transport Authority. 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 and there are penalties for non-compliance. Also, a relevant person who is implementing the Regulations can seek the assistance of the Gardaí where needed.