Lockdown threat due to public’s ‘lack of seriousness’ over mask compliance

A shopper wears a face mask. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA.

A consultant in infectious diseases has called on the Government to enforce the rules around face coverings and to “hammer home” the message about their importance, as he said better compliance could prevent another lockdown.

Dr Jack Lambert told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show that people needed clearer guidance and he hoped that the national plan to manage the virus, due to be announced today, would include such measures.

People were not wearing masks despite it being a legal requirement and signs everywhere, he said.

There are lots of solutions - the reason we're in this threat of lockdown is a failure to comply with appropriate behaviour, or people have let down their guard.

“We need to take this seriously. This is a lethal virus. But the solution is not 'lockdown, lockdown, lockdown'.

“There are lots of solutions - the reason we're in this threat of lockdown is a failure to comply with appropriate behaviour, or people have let down their guard.”

Dr Lambert said that when he went into restaurants and hotels he was served by people with their mask under their chin: “That’s not protecting me or them from the spread of Covid.”

He said if he was driving a bus and someone got on and refused to wear a mask, he would stop the bus, pull over and call the gardaí.

Lockdown prevention

It was shameful the “lack of seriousness” that some people were displaying and also the lack of guidance on the importance of face masks and the lack of enforcement, the doctor said.

The Government should get role models to push home the message in a national campaign about the importance of face masks, he urged.

“We know face masks work for respiratory diseases. Let's just get that message across - make it very clear. There's no shortage of face masks or face coverings. That's a critical first step.

“If we did that over the next month and really enforced it - at every level from schools to creches, to hospitals and in the community, then I think we wouldn't be in the situation of having these lockdowns that are going to be proposed.”