Pharmacists advised against confronting customers refusing to wear masks indoors

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Pharmacists have been advised not to come into confrontation with customers who refuse to wear a face mask when a pharmacy is a health care facility.

Questions were raised yesterday by some staff about the need for them to wear a mask in pharmacies, which fall under the category of healthcare establishments but also points of sale.

While mask-wearing is no longer mandatory in shops since yesterday – and healthcare facilities are still designated as areas where they must be used – the rule no longer has the force of law.

The head of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), Darragh O’Loughlin, said yesterday that there may be customers who insist on not wearing a mask and that in these situations the pharmacist should “not come into confrontation but serve them quickly so they can leave”.

The IPU had to issue guidelines after being contacted by some staff about their right to refuse to wear a mask.

He said the mandatory requirement is being removed, but public health advice is that they continue to be worn in healthcare settings.

“There are people coming in and out of pharmacies who are immunocompromised. We need to protect those people,” O’Loughlin said.

The IPU chief was speaking as Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn yesterday said the advice is to wear a mask wherever you deem appropriate, particularly in healthcare settings and transport public.

Mr O’Loughlin said we were in “an overall positive position” in relation to the virus, with 47 Covid-19 patients in intensive care yesterday, the lowest number since last August.

He noted that 60% of those patients had not received a booster shot and urged those who are eligible for the vaccine to get it.

Meanwhile, Sarah Lennon of Sage Advocacy, which provides support and advocacy for vulnerable adults, said yesterday that some care homes have introduced their own visiting restrictions which are causing ‘distress’ for residents who have already suffered so much for the pandemic.

“We are very aware that despite the current nursing home visitation guidelines and updated infection prevention and control guidelines for nursing homes, some providers are restricting visitation,” Ms. Lennon.

“While many nursing homes are following the advice on visiting, some nursing home providers have introduced restrictions on visiting, causing considerable distress and inconvenience to residents and their loved ones.

“We know that meaningful and safe visitation is extremely important to the well-being and mental health of care home residents and their loved ones, and that without visitation and connection to their loved ones, residents have really suffered throughout. throughout the pandemic.

Ms Lennon said anyone living in a care home has the right to have or refuse visitors and to leave a care home.

We cannot have one rule for the rest of society and leave care home residents behind, she added.

In response, Tadhg Daly, from Nursing Homes Ireland, said he supported the guidelines and called on visitors to remain vigilant, follow infection prevention and control and wear a face covering for the duration of their visit. at the retirement home.

“This is a cautious request from home visitors where an outbreak may require residents to self-isolate for 10 days. When an outbreak occurs, nursing homes are guided by public health,” said Mr Daly.

“A resident may choose to be visited by a designated support person in accordance with public health guidelines and the visitor should be aware of the associated risks.

“With over 300 open nursing home outbreaks at present, the responsibility to protect nursing home residents is shared.”

It comes as the HSE plans to switch to a new surveillance mode to monitor the spread of the virus as PCR testing is reduced.

This will involve more use of general practitioners, as well as population surveys.

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