Face-coverings may be required in shops and on public transport, says Dr Holohan

Chief Medical Officer says guidance being developed as part of restriction easing

The wearing of face-coverings in shops and on public transport may be required as part of the easing of restrictions introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19, public health officials have indicated.

Face-coverings may form an “important part” of the response “in certain circumstances” as restrictions are eased, according to chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.

Guidance was being developed on the “short use” in settings such as public transport or retail settings, he told a briefing in Government Buildings on the Government’s road-map out of Covid-19 restrictions.

However, it was important to ensure continuity in the supply of health-grade face-masks for healthcare workers and patients, he stressed.

Schools will not be re-opening until the new academic year for the “general school population”, Minister for Health Simon Harris said.

While there was a desire to see the Leaving Cert go ahead, it was now up to the education partners to decide how to progress this, he said.

Dr Holohan indicated it will be up to the sector to show social distancing and other principles can be respected in the holding of the exam.

Mr Harris described the Government’s plan as a “living, breathing document” about a return to “some kind of new normal”.

The roadmap was about “trying to strike a balance” and building on progress “without jeopardising it”.

Getting the timing for the lifting of measures wrong would risk lives and moving too soon in this direction risk a failure that would have a “devastating” impact on thousands of people, he warned.

He described the plan as a “partnership with the people” and said it needed to be “owned by everyone in the country”.

“If we don’t get it right, we’ll end up standing still or even going backwards.”

The road would be tough but would be “worth it”.

“It’s tough but I can assure you the alternative is a hell of a lot worse.”