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Armstrong says confirmation of clear face masks for health workers will make a real difference

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said confirmation thousands of clear face masks will soon be available to health professionals will make a “real difference” for many people here.

Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong – who is partially deaf – has been campaigning for months for clear face coverings to be used where possible to help those who lip read. Health Minister Robin Swann has now confirmed to her an initial allocation of 1,728 have been received for health and social care workers as part of the UK purchase, and are now undergoing final technical assessment. A further consignment will bring the number to 8,640.

“This is a welcome move and will make a real difference to many people – those who are deaf, some with learning disabilities and many older people – all of whom rely on lip reading to communicate,” said Ms Armstrong.

“I have also asked Finance Minister Conor Murphy if his Department would examine the bulk purchase of clear masks for use by all customer-facing staff in the Civil Service, which he has assured me he will look into.

“Getting used to face coverings is a massive culture change, one that has been made more difficult for those who need to see someone’s face to communicate. This equipment help us do that, while still remaining safe for our health workers.”