Kilkenny TD Malcolm Noonan wearing a face covering mask
Local TD Malcolm Noonan is calling on the Government to offer financial supports via Local Enterprise Offices to social enterprise initiatives, ICA groups and the network of ‘sewists’ around Ireland to mass produce cloth face masks.
The Green Party TD was speaking following a recommendation by the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan that members of the public would be advised to wear ‘face coverings’ as restrictions are eased.
Deputy Noonan said he welcomed the direction from the CMO on face coverings, but said it was important that a public information campaign on their use — as well as support for the thousands of sewists who have been making face coverings for weeks — should be rolled out immediately.
“We have long held the view that facemasks formed part of the solution in reducing infection in the community and while we welcome this long awaited guidance from the CMO, it is important now that Government embarks on a public campaign on their safe use, handling and washing,” said Deputy Noonan.
The local TD said that Government could incentivise the production of homemade cloth masks by groups around the country to ramp up production of cloth face coverings. He said that such a scheme would not impact on demand for essential PPE for frontline workers and create a sustainable cottage industry given the need for their use in the short term.
“There are already many groups and individual sewists out there making cotton masks, many of them introducing a fun or fashionable element to the work,” said Deputy Noonan.
“There are also a number of simple templates online that people can access and we would encourage Government to support this network of makers to scale up production to meet what will be an inevitable demand. Such facemasks if used with simple inserted filters can reduce droplet transmission by as much as 80% and will give confidence to older people in particular to venture out from the long period of restrictions.”
He added that, in line with an increase use of face coverings, the HSE needed to embark on a public campaign to demonstrate the correct use of face coverings, hygienic handling after use and the correct temperature to wash masks.