Sinn Féin MLA and spokesperson for Health Colm Gildernew has said increasing the practice of wearing face coverings in public requires a meaningful public awareness campaign to encourage it and measures to enable people to access coverings.
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA has called on the Department of Health to spearhead the efforts to promote face coverings, and make them available to the public.
“There is a growing sense within the community that Coronavirus has been beaten back and the threat has subsided, however, this is not the case, vigilance is still required.
“Mandatory face coverings has already been introduced on public transport and I am calling on the Department of Health to engage proactively in prompting their use more broadly.
“The World Health Organisation have already called for governments to encourage the general public to wear face masks as part of a comprehensive approach to suppress of COVID-19.
“It is also important that the message is clear that face coverings are effective but only in addition to the key public health messages of washing your hands and socially distancing.”
“But face coverings need to be affordable and accessible.
“We cannot have a situation where those who cannot afford face coverings go without them bringing greater risk to their health and the health of those around them.
“Greater use of face coverings must not, however unintended, introduce another health inequality.
“I am calling on the Minister to identify as a matter of urgency ways in which face coverings can be made accessible to all.”