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16th Feb 2022

Face mask requirements expected to be dropped as early as next week

NPHET will meet on Thursday to discuss the situation.

Rules around the wearing of face masks in retail settings, schools, and on public transport could be dropped in the coming days.

The Government looks set to make mask-wearing optional, issuing guidelines instead of keeping it mandatory.

The requirement to wear face masks in certain settings is one of the final Covid-19 restrictions still in place after the Government lifted the majority of measures in January.

NPHET will meet on Thursday to review the situation.

According to The Journal, the rule for schools is likely to be dropped next week, with public transport and retail changing later this month.

However, passengers travelling abroad on planes will still be required to wear masks as those rules are based on EU directives.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said last week that the Government will consider NPHET advice on the wearing of face masks for the public and make a decision accordingly.

He said that if the Government decide to lift mandatory mask-wearing, he would still recommend the wearing of them for the foreseeable future.

“Irrespective of whether it is mandated or not, I would recommend that people would wear masks in retail and public transport for some time yet,” he said.

“The news is good in respect of the Omicron variant, but we have to be mindful of other variants.

“I think the emphasis now is to make sure we continue our investment in public health and that we have systems in place that are resilient and adaptable to any future outbreaks and maybe of other variants.

“That also relates to the vaccination structures that we have so that we can respond again and are in a position particularly towards the latter part of the year in terms of vaccinating particularly the more vulnerable groups in our society.”