Risk that lifting mandatory mask wearing will be misinterpreted – Nphet member

Risk That Lifting Mandatory Mask Wearing Will Be Misinterpreted – Nphet Member
Employment law solicitor Richard Grogan told BreakingNews.ie that employers who choose to continue with a mask-wearing requirement in the workplace are within their legal rights to do so. Photo: Getty Images
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Vivienne Clarke

There is a risk that the move to remove mandatory mask wearing by law will be misinterpreted, a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has said.

Dr Mary Favier, Covid-19 adviser to the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), said mask wearing was a very effective means of reducing Covid numbers and she anticipated that many people would continue to wear masks.


It comes as mask wearing looks set to become voluntary in schools, retail settings and on public transport following a recommendation from Nphet. At present, those not wearing a face mask in settings where it is the law face a fine up to €1,000, up to one months' imprisonment, or both.

With such a restriction likely to be replaced with a recommendation to don a face covering, Dr Favier told RTÉ radio’s Today show that there was a risk with all messages that they could be misinterpreted.

Dr Favier said she would continue to wear a mask herself in healthcare settings and in situations which were congested. That would be the same for many people she said, as there were many who would still be anxious.

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That anxiety was completely understandable, she said. Many had to “reframe their lives” to deal with the risk and would continue to wear masks.

Amid indications that yesterday's meeting of Nphet was to be the last in the group's current form, Dr Favier said the decision to disband the group of health experts lies with the Minister for Health as the country “transitions out of a pandemic scenario.”

Nphet had achieved its goals, she said.

It was important that the expertise garnered during the pandemic be maintained and there was “a lot of background work” going on to ensure that the country would be prepared the next time there was a pandemic.

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