Cabinet set to give approval to ending of mandatory mask wearing

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has recommended an end to the mandatory wearing of masks, but they will be advisory in healthcare settings and on public transport.
Cabinet set to give approval to ending of mandatory mask wearing

Ministers will discuss a proposal from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly which would see the vast majority of rules on mask wearing come to an end, to be replaced by guidance.

he Government is expected to approve an ending of the rules around mandatory mask wearing.

On Tuesday morning, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney indicated that the Government was likely to approve the recommendations from health officials at a meeting of the Cabinet.

Ministers will discuss a proposal from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly which would see the vast majority of rules on mask wearing come to an end, to be replaced by guidance.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed last Friday that the Government would be accepting the guidance from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) that will bring an end to mandatory mask wearing.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has recommended an end to the mandatory wearing of masks, but they will be advisory in healthcare settings and on public transport.

The changes are expected to come into place on February 28.

In his letter to Mr Donnelly, Dr Holohan said: “Nphet concluded that there is no longer a continuing public health rationale for retaining them and advised that the following measures could be removed with effect from February 28 as planned.

“Mandatory mask wearing in areas where it is currently regulated for, including: public transport, taxis, retail and other indoor public settings, and staff in hospitality settings.

“Public health measures in early learning settings, school-aged childcare, primary and secondary schools, including physical distancing measures such as pods, and mask wearing.”

 Mr Coveney told RTÉ radio: “We’ve listened to our medical experts, right the way through Covid, that’s what Nphet has been there for.

“I think they’ve done an incredible job. Sometimes they’ve had to recommend decisions to Government that were unpopular and there’s been a lot of public debate around that.

“But the recommendations now coming from our Nphet team are clear.

“And I think we’re likely to discuss that in Cabinet this morning and accept those recommendations whereby masks would remain in medical settings in particular.

“I think we’d also be advising people to use their own judgments. And I think a lot of people will continue to wear masks on public transport, for example, and in other potentially crowded settings.”

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