Ireland to remove mask wearing rules among other Covid-19 restrictions

Dublin: Ireland will remove the rules of mandatory mask wearing in indoor public facilities and on public transport starting from February 28, said the Irish government.

Meanwhile, the specific protective measures currently in place in primary and secondary schools as well as in early learning and school-aged childcare facilities will also be removed, said the government in a statement on Tuesday.

The specific measures aimed at protecting local primary, secondary and pre-school children include pods, social distancing and staggering breaks, it added.

Pods refer to the practice that students must be grouped in a limited number while participating in an activity, Xinhua news agency reported.

The statement also said that from the end of February, people who show symptoms of Covid-19 will no long need to take a test except pregnant women, elders and people who have a high-risk medical condition or are immunocompromised.

But they must self-isolate themselves until 48 hours after the symptoms resolve, it said, adding that people who are close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case will also no longer need to have a test except healthcare workers who are identified as a household close contact.

Following the implementation of these newly announced rules, nearly all the Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland will be removed.

The Irish Department of Health said on Tuesday that an additional 3,294 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported in the day, a figure not low at all for a country with a mere population of five million despite the fact the figure is only half of the level as compared to January.

The Irish government in the statement advised the public to continue to wear masks on public transport and in healthcare settings apparently in fear of a possible rebound of the cases following the scrapping of the rules.

But these are just advices and have no legal binding.

Irish Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly told local media on Tuesday that he believed it is “appropriate” for the government to lift most of the remaining restrictions based on the current trajectory of the pandemic in Ireland as well as the progress of the vaccination program in the country.

Following a drastic removal of the Covid-19 restrictions by the Irish government on January 22, the daily numbers of Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and patients in intensive care units in the country have remained at a much lower level for the most of the time since that date, showed the data.

As of Monday, more than 3.95 million people in Ireland have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and over 2.79 million out of these people have received the booster vaccines, according to the latest official statistics.

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