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Taoiseach Micheal Martin names date when mandatory wearing of face masks will be scrapped

Micheál Martin has named February 28, Monday week, as the day when the law on the wearing of face masks will be scrapped.

The Taoiseach said the Government was able to move on this now because: “we are moving from the emergency phase of the pandemic to a new transitionary phase.”

Mr Martin was speaking after the latest letter from NPHET on Thursday night to Government recommended dropping the face mask rule for schools, public transport and workplaces.

The only place it will be required that you still mask-up will be in healthcare settings.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar believes people will continue wearing masks after the law that we have to wear them is dropped in the next 10 days.

Mr Varadkar said this is the norm in Asian countries and that “it may become the culture here” too.

And Mr Varadkar also said he believes NPHET will “fade away.”

It is understood that the NPHET letter may have been its last and that the advisory body will shortly be wound-up.

The Taoiseach was in Brussels speaking to reporters after the African Union/EU Summit where he confirmed the Government will be taking NPHET’s advice.

He said: “The Government will be accepting NPHET’s advice in relation to mask wearing.

“We are moving from the emergency phase of the pandemic to a new transitionary phase.

“That’s clearly the case as per the letter from NPHET and the Chief Medical Officer.

“In terms of the evolution so far, they are satisfied that the disease trajectory, that we are where they anticipated we would be.

“The pandemic is not over, there is still the disease out there, but the conversion to hospital and ICU is not significant and the Chief Medical Officer is clear that the public health rationale no longer applies in terms of retaining the regulations around the mandatory wearing of masks.”

Mr Martin told reporters after the press briefing that February 28 is the target date for when the mandatory wearing of masks rule will be gone.

There is still some caution in some sections of society that we may be moving too fast with the removal of the face masks rule.

Last night the INMO (Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation) expressed their concern.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation is urging Government to take serious caution when it comes to implementing this advice and take on board the current ability of the public health system to cope with additional pressure that the removal of the mask requirement may have on the health system.

“There is a clear link between reduced transmission and mask wearing.

“Removing the mask requirement in congregated settings particularly with poor ventilation, such as public transport, could have a detrimental impact.”

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