The public health advice relating to Covid-19, including that relating to face coverings, is kept under continuing review by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
A person, without reasonable excuse, must now wear a face covering when using public transport, in retail outlets, shops and shopping centres, in other indoor spaces such as libraries, cinemas and cinema complexes, theatres, concert halls, bingo halls, museums, businesses carrying out cosmetic nail care or nail styling, hair care or hair styling, tattoo and piercing services, travel agents and tour operators, laundries and dry cleaners and licensed bookmakers.
The relevant Regulations relating to retails outlets are the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (Face Coverings in certain premises and businesses) Regulations 2020 (S.I No. 296/2020) as amended by the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (Face Coverings in certain premises and businesses) Regulations 2020 (S.I No. 404/2020)
These Regulations do not apply:
- to a person under 13 years,
- to the occupier, manager or person in charge or a worker where there is a screen that separates them from other persons or the person takes all reasonable steps to maintain a distance of two metres
- to a member of the Garda Síochána in the course of performing his or her duties
The retail and other business Regulations provide that it is a matter for the occupier, manager or person in charge to take all reasonable steps to engage with persons entering or in a relevant premises to inform them of the requirements to wear a face covering and to promote compliance with the requirement. It is therefore a matter for the management of the retail operator concerned to decide what he/she may accept in terms of a reason for not wearing a face covering.
The Deputy may wish to note that the requirement to wear a face covering in the situations described is a penal provision for the purposes of section 31A of the Health Act 1947 (No. 28 of 1947). Enforcement is a matter for An Garda Síochána.
A reasonable excuse includes when a person cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment or disability or without severe distress; to communicate with a person who has difficulties communicating; to provide emergency help or care to a vulnerable person; to avoid harm or injury or to take medication. In addition, in retail outlets, it is also permitted to remove the face covering to allow for identification when the sales of goods or services have a minimum age requirement, or to assist in the provision of healthcare or healthcare advice.
The current face covering advice is available at