Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the changes announced for close contacts cannot create a situation where workers are put at risk.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is causing significant difficulties for frontline services, of that there is no doubt.
“As a result, it was clear that some changes to the advice on the restriction of movement for close contacts was necessary.
“The announced changes, that close contacts who have received their booster will not need to restrict their movements if they have no symptoms, have been made in an effort to ensure our frontline services can continue to function.
“The additional advice that close contacts undertake regular antigen tests over seven days and wear an FFP2, or a higher grade, of face mask, is necessary and sensible.
“However, antigen tests and medical grade face masks must be accessible and available in order for people to adhere to the additional advice.
“Given there are shortages of antigen tests and medical grade face masks, the latter advice will be almost impossible for people to follow.
“Additionally, there is also the associated costs for workers to purchase antigen tests and FFP2 masks.
“If the new advice is to ensure our frontline services function, and workers and the public are kept safe, then antigen tests and medical grade face masks must be accessible and free.
“In the absence of their free and widespread availability, these measures could unintentionally put workers at risk, as they could be pressured into attending work without access to these safety measures.
“It is important that the government step in here and ensure that ordinary people and workers who are close contacts can avail antigen tests and high quality face masks.”