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31st Aug 2021

Face coverings might become compulsory for children under 13

Should masks be compulsory for under 13s?

As restrictions are set to ease more and more over the coming weeks, Tony Holohan is cracking down on mask-wearing to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

A review is now underway to see if it should be compulsory for children to wear masks to protect them more as they head back to school.

Currently, only children over the age of 13 have been asked to wear masks, and it is now being looked into whether this should be extended to younger children.

Primary school students are exempt from wearing face masks and in after-school settings, but this new rule would counteract that.

A spokesperson for the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) said yesterday that they had been approached by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) to look into the evidence on the minimum age for face coverings.

According to The Irish Independent, a spokesperson said Hiqa’s review will “provide advice on whether the current minimum age should be reduced.”

They added: “We will shortly publish a protocol outlining what information will be considered. We anticipate publishing this advice in September.”

Hiqa said in March that the age should be unchanged while the Department of Education said that they have always been guided by public health advice.

The advice currently remains the same, with the Department following suit.

Children will now be returning to indoor activities as restrictions lift and Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has urged those participating to be cautious.

He said these “have proven to be settings where outbreaks and transmission in children have occurred in the past” and that being cautious in these situations “will help to prevent further transmission and potential outbreaks.”

He added: “Considerable preparations have been made to reopen schools safely.

“Our data clearly shows that, to date, the school environment was not a major source of disease transmission.

“In order to go back to school as safely as possible, my advice to children is to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser regularly and follow the protocols operating in your school.”