Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he is feeling well and not having any ill effects after his recent bout of Covid 19 which left him isolated in Washington for over a week.
But Mr Martin also urged people to wear a mask against the virus in situations where they think it is best – particularly in retail stores and on public transport.
At the same time, he strongly defended the government’s decision to lift the legal obligation to wear masks. He insisted the government had no choice in the face of expert medical advice.
The Taoiseach arrived in Brussels to address a two-day summit of EU leaders attended by US President Joe Biden and dominated by the Ukraine crisis and its humanitarian and economic fallout.
He was asked how he was feeling after his week-long Covid experience.
“I feel very good. Thank you very much. I seem to have been lucky enough to get a lighter dose of the strain and I’m grateful for that,” he said.
“The message there is really vaccination. I have no doubt that the vaccination has saved me from getting more seriously ill as a result of Covid anyway and that is the message I want to send to people,” he added.
Mr Martin said the legal requirement to wear masks has expired. But people were still advised to wear masks.
“I have spoken to the Chief Medical Officer regarding this and he is very clear the advice remains. I mean, he hasn’t withdrawn advice regarding the desirability of wearing masks in crowded situations, be it on public transport or in retail,” the Taoiseach stressed.
However, he said the government simply cannot go ahead with mandatory mask-wearing given the expert advice it has received.
“We had no basis for maintaining the legal requirements for this, given the public advice we received at the time that it was not mandatory,” Mr Martin said.
“But I think people should exercise caution and wear masks in crowded situations,” he added.
Mr Martin said despite growing numbers in hospital adding to the pressure from the isolation requirement, the Government is aware that this current wave “appears to be less virulent than previous variants.
“The CMO agrees. And it doesn’t justify further economic restrictions, that’s very clear from the chief medical officer – I’ve only spoken to him in the last 48 hours,” he said.
Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the launch of the vaccination program and the rate of coronavirus cases in Ireland
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/coronavirus/take-caution-and-wear-masks-in-crowded-situations-taoiseach-on-latest-covid-wave-41483998.html ‘Be careful and wear masks in crowded situations’ – Taoiseach on latest Covid wave