'We don't want stigma for not wearing masks' – Simon Harris says face coverings recommended but not required

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Minister for Health Simon Harris has warned against a stigma around people not wearing PPE as Ireland moves into Phase One of the roadmap, and said that a wearing face mask is recommended but not required.

fter weeks of uncertainty around whether wearing face masks in public was to be recommended and numerous opposing views from experts, the Fine Gael TD said that Government advice is that wearing a face covering is recommended for the majority of people, but is not compulsory.

“There has been an awful lot of questions raised by people, ‘should I or should I not wear a face mask,'” Mr Harris said today.

“The first thing I would do is differentiate between a face mask, which is something people might use in a health or social care setting and a face covering, which might be something that you or I could make at home.

“There is now guidance that in certain circumstances, there may be some benefits to wearing a face covering – that’s generally on public transport, or in enclosed indoors indoor spaces where you can’t property or safety and physically distance from from another person.”

Mr Harris said that he is concerned, however, about a negative stigma around those who do not decide to cover their face in public as he differentiated between articles of PPE and homemade ‘face coverings’.

“I do though, want to make sure we don’t get into a situation here where there is some sort of stigma if you don’t wear a face mask,” he continued.

“The guidance suggests that people under the age of 13 should not wear face coverings and also there are people with certain medical conditions, and people with allergies or perhaps people with autism who find the material, from a sensitivity point of view, to be too difficult to wear.

“So, not everybody is in a position to wear a face covering and it’s not mandatory, what it simply is, is guidance as an extra hygiene measure that people may wish to consider in certain circumstances.”

Mr Harris discouraged travelling off the island of Ireland and warned that anyone travelling home will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

He also announced that the Department of Health have introduced ‘Passenger Locator Forms’ detailing where travellers intend to self-isolate and their contact details, which he intends to put on a regulatory footing, which makes its filling out a legal requirement.

The Dublin TD said that he is “encouraged to see that continuing downward trend in relation to both ICU admissions and hospitalisations.”

He said the number of people currently is ICU with Covid-19 is 56 while the number of people in hospitals today across the country with the virus stands at 390, down from 419 yesterday.

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Source: Irish News