SHOPPERS across Tyrone are being urged to get used to wearing face coverings over the coming days before it is made compulsory at the end of this week.
The measure – which has gathered support from politicians, medics and members of the public across the county in recent weeks – will become mandatory in the North from August 1 (Saturday).
As part of the new initiative – seen as an important step in preventing a possible second wave of Covid 19 infections – the Stormont Executive has agreed a three-week period of grace for the public, before enforcement of the new regulations may be introduced on August 20, if it is deemed to necessary to achieve compliance.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill took to social media at the weekend, posting an image of herself shopping while wearing a face.
“The new Friday evening shopping look #FaceCoverings,” read the accompanying message from the Mid Ulster MLA.
Last week her party colleague, Tyrone MLA Colm Gildernew said it was important that masks are “affordable and accessible”.
“We cannot have a situation where those who cannot afford face coverings go without them bringing greater risk to their health and the health of those around them.”
First Minister Arlene Foster said enforcement was an option which the Executive did not want to use.
“We would prefer if people came along with us and in partnership decided to wear face masks when they are in enclosed spaces.”
At the weekend, it was announced that holidaymakers returning from Spain to the North will have to quarantine for 14 days after a significant rise in infections in parts of Spain.
And this week, it is expected that a new contact-tracing mobile phone app will be launched in the North. The Stop Covid NI app will send a message to those who have unknowingly come in contact with someone who has tested positive with for coronavirus. Last week, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) said the virus was mentioned on the death certificates of two people in the week up to July 17, which was seven fewer than the previous week.