The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has called for the reintroduction of mandatory face coverings for passengers on public transport.
om O’Connor, assistant general secretary-designate at NBRU, said the union is calling for the same measures currently in place in the healthcare sector.
“We are looking for the same protective measures as health workers, mask wearing is still mandatory in healthcare and we are aiming for a reintroduction of mandatory face coverings on public transport,” he said.
“We led the campaign in 2020 to achieve the introduction of mandatory face coverings and we now have concerns.”
“Our members have no choice but to go to work, if I don’t feel safe as a commuter on the bus or train, I don’t get on. I can choose another means of transport, a car, but the frontline workers have to go to work and get paid.”
Mr O’Connor said 5 to 10 per cent of industry workers are absent due to Covid-19 and the transport sector reflects the same reality as society at large.
He said that “at best” 20 per cent of passengers on buses and trains are wearing face coverings.
“There are still quite a number of drivers who wear masks, although drivers didn’t have to wear them when mask-wearing was compulsory, but station staff and depot staff on the rails did,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland One.
Mr O’Connor said ventilation was a problem on public transport as some windows could not be opened.
“There is a sign on the Dublin Bus that says ‘Please leave the window open’ but there is no one to monitor it. Windows cannot be opened on coaches and trains [the problem is] ventilation,” he said.
This comes as hospitals are under serious pressure as staff treat large numbers of Covid-19 patients.
Earlier this week the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization called for the return of mask rules for indoor settings such as retail and hospitality and public transport, saying hospitals were now becoming dangerous due to overcrowding and Covid.
Senior politicians have insisted there will be no return to restrictions despite a surge in cases.
As of 8am Thursday morning, 1,425 people with Covid-19 were hospitalized and 55 are in intensive care.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told a Fine Gael faction meeting on Wednesday night that the chief medical officer saw no need for further Covid restrictions.
He expressed concern at the rising numbers but stressed that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was less severe, adding that the population was highly vaccinated and no economic and social restrictions would be imposed for a bad flu season.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/bus-and-rail-union-calls-for-return-of-mandatory-facemasks-for-passengers-on-public-transport-as-covid-infections-surge-41482527.html The Bus and Railway Union is calling for the return of mandatory face masks for passengers on public transport as Covid infections rise