Less than 4% of public transport commuters wear masks despite health advice to curb the spread of Covid-19 this winter.
Irish Independent Journalists made 100 trips on the Luas, Dart and Dublin Bus over four days last week, and found that a small portion of the passengers were wearing masks.
While nearly all Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in Ireland in January this year, the mandatory wearing of masks on public transport remained in place until the end of February.
However, even after that, the government and public transport companies are still encouraging passengers to continue to wear face coverings.
But Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly admitted in recent days that the low numbers of people wearing masks in these places is a “concern” as winter approaches.
Only 3.8% of Dublin’s public transport commuters wear masks, according to this week’s survey Irish Independent a statement.
There were a total of 4,805 passengers on these 100 flights, 185 of whom were wearing a face covering.
Luas Green Line had the highest number of passengers wearing masks at 6.4 pieces.
Between 15 flights and 462 passengers in total on the Green Line, 30 wore masks.
The percentage of people wearing masks on the red line for LOAS was half the percentage for the green line, at 3.2 pieces.
Among the four modes of transportation, Dart had the fewest number of passengers wearing masks at 3pc.
Dublin Bus had the second highest mask wear compliance rate at 4.7 pieces.
Of the 35 flights carrying 1,120 passengers, 53 of them were wearing a mask.
On 22 of the 100 total trips, no one on the bus, train or tram was wearing a face covering.
NBRU Secretary General Dermot O’Leary said the government should issue strong advice regarding the guidelines for wearing masks.
He added: “This should be the case especially if there is an increase in forces.” “We may need to move to a mandatory phase after that. The government should tell people now so they are aware and not air them in the middle of winter.
“There is little point in people like me in the middle of a big hike saying they should make it mandatory.
“We know we are having a very difficult winter. We know it will be difficult for patients and healthcare professionals across the country. We will have an ongoing focus this fall and winter on living with Covid.”
There has been an increase in Covid-19 cases over the past number of weeks as the weather got colder and more people gathered indoors.
As of yesterday, 447 people are in hospital with the virus, while 15 are in intensive care.
Two weeks ago, Minister Donnelly submitted a note to Cabinet outlining the current situation with Covid-19.
The memo stated that there are currently no plans to make the wearing of masks mandatory in certain circumstances.
But speaking to Radio Newstalk in recent days, the minister said people have been advised to wear masks on public transport, as well as in healthcare settings, and in crowded enclosed spaces for people at high risk.
He added that the small number of people wearing masks on public transport “is a matter of concern to me”.
In many European countries, it is still required for passengers to wear masks on public transport.
Ahead of this winter season, German authorities have announced that it will be mandatory to wear masks on planes, long-distance trains and buses from October through April 2023, and in some regions, they will be required on local public transport.
A Dublin Bus spokesperson said that while wearing face coverings is not mandatory, it “recommends that customers continue to wear face coverings while traveling on board and for the duration of their journey” and have signs on their buses explaining this.
Irish Rail said it continues to advise customers to wear face coverings through station signage and information, website and social media information, and booking confirmations.
The spokesperson added: “This has been the case consistently since changing the wearing of face coverings from mandatory to advisory in February 2022.
“At all times, working alongside the NTA and other public transit operators, we will work to promote compliance with public health guidelines and regulations.”
In response to a query about whether mask-wearing might become mandatory again in the coming months, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said it would continue to ensure its response was “flexible and flexible, with the ability to pivot quickly and respond to any emerging threat.”
Additional reporting by Niall Ferriter, Azmia Riad, Siwars Mulgrew, Eagan Moloney and Paul Hyland.
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