Labour calls for free masks and antigen tests for every home in Ireland

By Ferghal Blaney

Labour has called on the Government to send free antigen tests and higher grade facemasks to every home in the country.

The proposal came from frontbench TD, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, after the Cabinet decided to ease close contact rules.

The new rules will see the restriction of movements scrapped for close contacts who have no symptoms and test negative with antigens.

However, this comes with a reminder that other public health safety measures, more antigen tests and enhanced mask wearing need to be increased.

Tests and the better quality masks can be expensive and Mr Ó Ríordáin said packs should be sent to every home in the country and then made available free in pharmacies after that.

The Labour Dublin TD said it was wrong for the Government to decide that ‘the market’ should dictate prices.

He told the Irish Mirror: “I think it was a really unfortunate phrase that the Government used, that the market would dictate the cost of antigen tests.

“I think if every household in Ireland wants to be delivered an antigen test, a higher grade mask and an information sheet then that’s a very practical step that the Government could take.

“I remember at the start of this process that information sheets used to be regularly sent to every household in the country and I thought that was a good move.

“If we are changing the way that we are operating through this pandemic, well then surely the Government needs to be leading us, not firefighting, leading, saying, ‘here is the new rationale, here are the steps, following public health advice, here is what has to happen.

“‘Here’s an antigen test to help you, here’s a mask to help you, and by the way there’ll be more of these free in your local pharmacy.

“That would be a responsible and proactive response from Government.”

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