Covid-19: Fianna Fáil’s John Lahart is first TD to wear face mask in Dáil chamber

Few have worn coverings around Leinster House despite politcians being asked to lead by example

Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart on Thursday became the first TD to wear a mask in the Dáil chamber. Image: Oireachtas TV.

Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart on Thursday became the first TD to wear a mask in the Dáil chamber. Image: Oireachtas TV.

 

Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart on Thursday became the first TD to wear a face mask in the Dáil chamber.

The Dublin South West deputy wore a black mask during a meeting of the Dáil’s Covid-19 committee, which was examining the impact of the pandemic on education and plans for chidren to return to school in the autumn.

Public representatives have been asked to lead by example during the pandemic and wear face coverings to supress the possible spread of the disease, but few in Leinster House have done so.

Mr Lahart wore the mask in the chamber while a limited number of people were present and social distancing measures were in use.

“There are clearly places where you don’t need it but we were advised to wear it in enclosed settings and that chamber is a bit static and if it helps people overcome a bit of shyness about it, then I’m happy about that,” he said after the meeting.

“I was shy about doing it myself. Now I’ve done it, I’m quite happy.”

Under phase three of the official roadmap to lift the Covid-19 restrictions, which came into effect on Monday, it is “strongly advised” that face coverings are worn on public transport, in enclosed spaces and in situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Public debate

After a lengthy public debate about how effective wearing masks is, the Government last month recommended their use.

Despite the roll-out of a public information campaign, the numbers wearing face masks has been relatively low, including on public transport, where traffic numbers increased substantially on Monday when most businesses were cleared to reopen.

Detailed regulations providing for mandatory wearing of face coverings on public transport are being drawn up by the Department of Health and the Department of Transport but are expected to take at least another week to complete.