Leitrim County Council Chief Executive, Lar Power, has warned that unless the Government is proactive and addresses the issue of the supply and type of masks which will be required for those working outside of the health care sector, they will face a situation where there "will be an issue with supply (of masks) for health care services".
Speaking during Leitrim County Council's first online council meeting since the pandemic lockdown began this week, Mr Power said it was his reading of the current pandemic that "the public is heading to a point where they will have to wear masks" when outside their homes.
He said he believed Ireland would already be facing a situation of compulsory mask wearing except for the fear that the Government issuing such an order at this time "would put such a strain on our health services" who are already facing shortages sourcing Personal Protective Equipment.
Acknowledging it is now only a matter of time until masks are compulsory in this pandemic Mr Power said he would "like the Government to declare that the supply and wearing of a mask to be a personal responsibility" of each individual.
He said that he believed that in situations where a person was not involved in working in a medical setting, the wearing of items such as a homemade linen or washable cotton masks "would probably be perfectly fine".
Mr Power explained that, if the Government made it the individual's responsibility to provide their own mask in a personal setting outside of those who work in the health care field this would ensure that employers outside of health care are not with the cost of providing high cost disposable masks.
He said that if it was the case that most people cannot return to work without a mask the question will arise of who will provide it and this could impact not only the business in terms of running costs, but also the availability of medical grade masks which are already in short supply.
"For example there are 32,000 people employed in the local authority sector in Ireland. If it is required of us, as a sector, to have to supply masks to employees each day we are talking 160,000 masks a week or our employees won't be able to work," he said.
"If the government doesn't make a move on this we'll run into a terrible shortage. We'll run into an issue with supply (of masks) for the health services," he warned.
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