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24th Mar 2022

Calls for mandatory mask-wearing to return on public transport

Sarah McKenna Barry

As hospitals get busier, there have been calls for mandatory mask-wearing on public transport.

Amid rising Covid-19 numbers, there have been some calls for the return of mandatory face-coverings on public transport.

Tom O’Connor, who is the assistant general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union spoke to RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland about how the union is calling for a return to wearing face masks for all passengers.

He pointed to the rising case numbers, and highlighted how just 20% of commuters are still wearing face masks.

Mr O’Connor also pointed out the importance of ventilation on public transport, and he said that the windows on trains and intercity coaches cannot be opened.

There has been a 29% rise in Covid-19 patients in hospital, and, as of last night, there were 1,388 patients in Irish hospitals.

Also on the morning’s Morning Ireland was the HSE’s chief operation officer Anne O’Connor, who said that hospitals will have to cancel elective procedures amid the surge.

Ms O’Connor described these cancellations as “the last resort”.

She also pointed to the high level of absences in the service due to Covid.

On the programme, she said: “This really is a capacity challenge. It is a real concern for us today.

“We have to get through the next few weeks and hope that the numbers improve.”

She later said of the cancellations: “It’s the last resort for us. It has been one serious situation after another, none of us wants to cancel procedures.

“We will do everything to get back to full service.”

Concerns about rising case numbers come as An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar revealed that the Chief Medical Officer does not recommend further restrictions.

At a party meeting, he pointed to the less severe nature of the Omicron variant as well as the high vaccination rates in Ireland.

Featured image: Leah Farrell/