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Face masks on public transport will be mandatory

Transport Minister Shane Ross said that social distancing rules on public transport has meant they are down to very low levels of passenger numbers.

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A person wearing a protective face mask sits on a bus in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

A person wearing a protective face mask sits on a bus in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

A person wearing a protective face mask sits on a bus in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Face masks on public transport will be mandatory to help stop the spread of coronavirus as more people return to work and use bus and train services.

Transport Minister Shane Ross will bring the face covering proposal to Cabinet today which will require the public to wear masks on trains, the Luas and buses.

It will not apply to people under the age of 13 and those who have health reasons which mean they cannot wear face masks.

Mr Ross said that as lockdown is being eased and more people are returning to towns and cities, public transport will come under pressure.

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Leo Varadkar on a Dublin Bus, encouraging passengers to wear face masks on public transport (Niall Carson/PA)

Leo Varadkar on a Dublin Bus, encouraging passengers to wear face masks on public transport (Niall Carson/PA)

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Leo Varadkar on a Dublin Bus, encouraging passengers to wear face masks on public transport (Niall Carson/PA)

He said that social distancing rules on public transport has meant they are down to very low levels of passenger numbers.

“We’re talking about 12 people on the double-decker bus and that kind of equivalent reductions in rail,” he told RTE Morning Ireland.

“We were going to get to a situation in the next few weeks where we’re close to bursting and where there’s not enough capacity on public transport so we have to sort out problems, one way or the other.

“We’ve increased the capacity that can be used on public transport to 50%, which will mean that a lot more people can get on the buses and on the trains, but to counter to that, to protect people’s health, we’ve made it mandatory to wear face masks.

“In other words, when are you getting onto public transport you will from now on, or the period this is introduced in the next few weeks or days, have to wear a face mask and that is something which I hope will be welcome.”

People have expressed the view that it's a double-edged sword and in some cases wearing face masks, if they're not used properly, is actually counterproductiveShane Ross

He said while there is no confirmed date when the measure will be introduced, it will be “in the next few weeks”.

Mr Ross said there is no intention to force people to wear face masks if it is damaging to their health.

He added: “One of the absolutely essential parts of the introduction of these is how they should be used, where they should be purchased, how long they should be used and how they should be worn.

“This is very, very important.

“People have expressed the view that it’s a double-edged sword and in some cases wearing face masks, if they’re not used properly, is actually counterproductive, so there’s going to be a serious communications campaign.”

The Government is also expected to announce a set of so-called “air bridges” between Ireland and other countries which have a similar number of low Covid-19 cases.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

This would remove the requirement for people arriving in Ireland to quarantine for two weeks.

Mr Ross added: “We haven’t nominated any countries yet, there are reports going out that we have, there won’t be any countries nominated in the next few days.”

On Wednesday another six people with Covid-19 died in Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team reported.

As of midnight Tuesday, the authorities had been notified of five more confirmed cases, making a total of 25,396.

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