Irish Government to focus on booster uptake as it prepares mask legislation
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said that the Government is to consider whether to introduce legislation on mandatory face coverings later this year, but will focus on the vaccine booster campaign in the interim.
It emerged this week that laws allowing for the reintroduction of mandatory mask-wearing in designated settings are to be drafted as a precautionary measure.
The move, outlined at Cabinet on Tuesday, is understood to be a preparatory step in case such a public health measure is required in the event of the Covid-19 situation worsening this winter.
When asked on RTE Radio on Wednesday about whether the mandatory wearing of face coverings would be brought in during the current Covid-19 wave, the minister said: “The Government will consider at what right point that legislation could be merited.
“We will look at whether that measure is needed later on in the year.”
He said that face masks have contributed to the national effort to contain Covid-19, but appealed to people to get a booster vaccine if they had not already.
“As we speak at the moment, I think 46% of the population have now received a second booster, so that means there’s over half who still haven’t.
“So in particular, for those in their late 60s, for those who are immunocompromised, our message is please avail of the booster, because that is the greatest line of defence to the disease and getting very sick, impacting on your health and that of those who are near you.
“And that is where we will focus for the time ahead.”
The minister also reiterated the Government’s line that there will not be an emergency cost-of-living budget before October’s Budget 2023 is revealed.
“There will not be an emergency budget.
“We absolutely appreciate the huge challenge and the rising costs faced by so many and the Government has acted already throughout the year to help as many as we can with the rising cost of living, and when we get to do the budget later in the year, we will help again.
“We have, in addition to the Budget last year, we have put in place measures of an additional 1.4 billion euro.
“We’ve done our best to help. We will help again when we get to the Budget, but the issues that we have and the challenge that we have at the moment is not something we can respond to month by month, because these difficulties are not going to go away in a month.”