PEOPLE are being advised to wear face coverings on public transport and in shops but have been warned they’re not a “magic shield” against coronavirus.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the decision as an “additional hygiene measure” to be practised along with hand washing, sneeze etiquette and social distancing.
Face coverings aren’t being recommended for children under-13 and they won’t be a legal requirement for the rest of the population.
Mr Varadkar said that this is because the science suggests it’s beneficial but face coverings are “no substitute” for all the other hygiene measures which must be continued.
Another reason it can’t be mandatory as some people may have allergies to wearing face coverings and they may not be suitable for people with autism and other conditions.
The government is to post videos online offering guidance on how to use face coverings safely, when to use them and how to make them at home.
Mr Varadkar said there’s no shortage of surgical masks but they should be reserved for healthcare workers and if millions of people began to use them there could be supply issues.
He said this is why face coverings are being advised instead.
Health Minister Simon Harris said: “We're very eager that people don't criticise or judge people who are not able to wear a face covering.
“This won’t be for everybody. For a variety of reasons – people have allergies people with autism or other conditions could have sensitivity issues in terms of wearing a covering on their face,” he added.
Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said face coverings can’t be seen as “as some kind of magic shield in relation to this disease".
“It's a supplement to the other measures that we are recommending,” he said and social distancing must still be maintained.