The NI GP chief said that while they believe the time is right to put regulatory restrictions in place before referral, the public should continue to wear masks whenever possible.
On Tuesday, all legal restrictions imposed on Covid-19 in Northern Ireland were changed by reference, including the abolition of Covid passports in all settings and the use of face masks.
Dr Alan Stout, chair of the British Medical Association’s General Practitioner Committee in Northern Ireland, said the move was a major step “on the path back to normalcy”, but guidelines for masks still had to be followed.
Speaking on Belfast Live, Dr Stout said: “The most important thing to remember is what the Health Minister announced earlier this week is to abolish the legal obligation to wear a mask indoors, but there are still some guidelines for people to follow. So be it.
“Through all of our BMA channels, we strongly urge people to continue to follow these guidelines: not only do they protect other people, especially the most vulnerable around us, who are understandably still very anxious, but it also means that we are now beginning to travel. back to normal.
“This means that travel can be relatively quiet on a relatively calm road without problems.”
Dr Stout explained that although there is no legal requirement for masks to be worn indoors, the practice should be encouraged to continue.
“I would say, carry on as you have done. Everyone is used to it and it is not a huge difficulty or an imposition on the vast majority of people: it is really a small need in a short time.
“In terms of being able to protect the people around us, but also in terms of how important it is, if we all do the simple things right, we’ll do really well.”
Dr Stout believes the time is right for Health Minister Robin Swann to lift all legal restrictions as we learn to live with a pandemic.
He continued, “We have to start this journey towards normal life, but we also have to deal with what lies ahead, and the most important thing that has changed and affected us is that we know that the relationship between Omicron is dominant. The variable prevalent at this stage, severe illness and death has been greatly weakened.”
“We can trust that people don’t do much harm.”
His advice going forward is to continue to follow public health advice so that everyone can beat the pandemic as smoothly as possible.
“One real plus is that we all know more about infection control and prevention than we do. I think a lot of people, not only because of Covid, but also because of many other infections and viruses, want to act in the near future.”
“This is a sensible thing to do and good general health advice and will help all of us with treatment as much as possible.”
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