Gardaí to start using facemasks in enclosed spaces

Over 200,000 masks issued along with 2m pairs of gloves and 50,000 litres of hand sanitiser

Several complaints have been made to the Garda Ombudsman about gardaí not wearing facemasks at checkpoints.  Photograph: Collins

Several complaints have been made to the Garda Ombudsman about gardaí not wearing facemasks at checkpoints. Photograph: Collins

 

Gardaí are to start using face masks in certain circumstances for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members will be required to wear masks in enclosed settings such as houses or cars and if they expect to be in close contact with people for more than 15 minutes.

The move brings the Garda in line with common practice in other European countries and follows the HSE’s recommendation that the public should be wearing face coverings on public transport and in shops.

However, gardaí on patrol or at checkpoints will not be required to wear the masks.

Over 200,000 facemasks have been distributed to the force for these purposes. It has also received two million pairs of disposable gloves and 50,000 litres of hand sanitiser.

Several members of the public have made complaints to the Garda Ombudsman about gardaí not wearing face masks at Covid-19 checkpoints.

This prompted the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors to point out that the Chief Medical Officer had so far instructed members not to wear them.

Last week Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny criticised the decision not to make PPE mandatory for gardaí. He suggested it related to a lack of supplies.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he “rejected this out of hand.”

“Gardaí will use PPE as they see fit operationally, and to do so they have more than sufficient supplies,” he told The Irish Times.