Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Health Simon Harris TD, Minister for Transport Shane Ross and Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority (NTA) have today launched a campaign on face coverings.

Face coverings are recommended in situations where social distancing is not possible, for example in shops and on busy public transport, or if you are meeting someone who is vulnerable to the virus, for example people who are cocooning. Wearing cloth face coverings may help prevent people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it to others.

Wearing of face coverings is recommended in the following circumstances:

–    when staying 2 metres apart from people is difficult – for example, in shops, shopping centres or public transport

–    by people visiting the homes of those who are cocooning

–    by people who are being visited in their homes by those who are cocooning

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:

“Our message is simple; if you are in situations where social distancing is difficult, such as on public transport or in shops, please wear a face covering. It’s also a good idea to wear one when you are visiting someone who is vulnerable to the virus. In this way, we can help to reduce the spread of the virus, which is more important than ever as our country continues to reopen.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD said:

“Wearing a face covering will help you to protect those around you. It is not a magic shield, but it is an additional measure aimed at stopping the spread of this virus. If you cannot keep a 2 metre distance, we recommend you use face coverings. We are strongly encouraging people on public transport to use them, in shops and supermarkets. And if you are visiting a loved one who is over 70 or someone who has a medical condition, we are asking you to wear a face covering and help shield and protect the most vulnerable.”

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said:

“It’s been a tough few months for everyone in the country, as we have stayed away from loved ones and friends in order to keep each other safe. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your efforts, for the sacrifices you’ve made which has enabled us to get to a place where we can start seeing each other again, albeit at a safe distance.

We’ve worked so well together, and we can now all benefit from the results.  So please, if you need to take public transport, go out shopping or are visiting older relatives or people who may be vulnerable or at risk, wear a face covering. It’s an easy thing to do and you may save lives by this one simple act.”

The campaign is a recommendation of the National Public Health Emergency Team and will commence today with a major national and regional radio and press campaign, along with a targeted paid social media campaign and TV to follow. Detailed content  is available on gov.ie/facecoverings and HSE.ie with guidance on how to make and safely use face coverings.

Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA said:

“NTA very much welcomes the campaign being launched today and we would join with the Taoiseach and Ministers Ross and Harris in urging people to wear face coverings while on a bus, tram, train or taxi. Doing so will increase protection for other customers and for public transport workers.

We believe that this is an important part of the effort to rebuild confidence in public transport as restrictions are eased across the country.”

People wearing face coverings are still advised to do the important things necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

These include:

–    washing your hands properly and often

–    covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze

–    not touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

–    social distancing (keeping at least 2 metres away from other people)

Cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13 and anyone who:

–    has trouble breathing

–    is unconscious or incapacitated

–    is unable to remove it without help

–    has a disability and who may feel upset or uncomfortable wearing the face covering