Face masks are set to play a key role in community life as Ireland emerges from the Covid-19 lockdown.
People may be required to wear non-medical face coverings when shopping, on public transport and other potentially high-traffic environments.
Businesses that re-open are also being told that staff should be supplied with masks where 2 metre worker separation cannot be ensured.
The National Public Health Emergency Team is expected to provide clearer guidance on masks after a meeting this Thursday.
Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said there will be a role in community settings for face coverings that are not of a medical grade. He added that he did not want a “competition for access to essential personal protective equipment that is designed for healthcare use, in healthcare settings by healthcare professionals.”
Dr Holohan said ‘practical’ public communications will be issued on face coverings and, in some cases, on how to make homemade masks. More importantly, Dr Holohan said guidance will be issued on how to safely use masks alongside hand washing and social distancing.
“The evidence is clear, if face masks are not used properly they can increase the risk of transmission and the face mask becomes contaminated. If it is touched, it can lead to infection if it spreads onto the hands,” Dr Holohan said.