Little enthusiasm to live completely without face-masks, even if Government removes rules

‘If you’re happy enough to wear one, wear one’ - people in Galway will keep the masks

Galwegians are displaying little enthusiasm to live completely without face-masks, it seems, even if the Government is considering reducing, or removing rules that have been place for two years.

Donegal-born Mary Clare Bray, who has lived and worked in Galway City for years, said that she would feel uncomfortable on the weekly shop, or being indoors without a mask.

“Certainly, doing my weekly shopping I would wear one, I do find that the shops are quite crowded again and we are on top of one another, and I would wear masks there,” she told The Irish Times.

In work, Ms Bray still wears her mask: “There’s a screen between me and the people coming in. They’re wearing masks and that has its hindrances because we can’t hear one another half the time, you know.


“Certainly, I’d get the feedback from people coming into me that they are the same as me, if you’re happy enough to wear one, wear one,” said Bray, “Covid-19 has not gone away, there is still a lot around there.”

Personal safety

Habits have changed, believes Caoimhe Killeen, who will stay wearing masks indoors: "Just for personal safety, even if I look a bit stupid. It's just been drilled into me at this stage. Wear your mask and keep other people safe."

The thought of being on public transport in a world without masks is concerning many, especially when buses and train are once again running to full capacity.

“My anxiety would just not allow me to relax in a situation where people aren’t wearing masks,” said one person, who chose not to identified when speaking to The Irish Times.

Strikingly, she supports masks even though she does not believe they help much: “I have seen how they show the tiny little molecule going through the mask and it does not make a difference. But I think for people’s mental wellbeing, to see visually people wearing a mask, is better.”

Another person, who has no choice but to depend on public transport because they cannot drive, and who also chose to remain anonymous, is unhappy at talk that the Government is on the point of relaxing restrictions.

“If somebody sits down on the bus next to me not wearing a mask, they potentially may be unvaccinated and could pass on Covid to me, and I am going home to family members who are already immunocompromised and high risk,” she said.

The concerns are shared widely, including by one hospitality work in the city who told of her discomfort have being told by her employer that she did not have to wear her mask at work anymore.

“I was not ready for that at all. I’m still wearing them in work, but it did bother me when customers didn’t. However, I can see why it wouldn’t feel necessary in pubs or nightclubs when you can move round,” she said.

“I understand that people kind of want to pretend it’s over, or live with it, or whatever,” she said, but so many people are still having to be careful to protect their health: “I see absolutely no upside to getting rid of them indoors,” she said.

Many will continue to wear masks long after the pandemic is forgotten, she believes: “There’s a demand among lots of people to keep them in general if you’re feeling under the weather because of pollution or if you’re ill.

“I really do believe that something like that is the way forward, opposed to just phasing them out, to recommend wearing them when you’re under the weather if you still have to go somewhere,” she said.

However, not everyone agrees. Citing mask-acne, or "mascne", as it is known, some people relish the prospect of not needing them: "Masks have given me acne for so long, and it has affected my mental health," said Neasa Gorrell.