Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Ceisteanna (705)

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

705. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health if he has considered introducing documentation for those medically exempt from wearing face coverings to ensure that all those who do not wear masks in retail settings are truly exempt from doing so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6368/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The public health advice relating to COVID-19 is kept under continuous review by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), by my Department and the Government. The NPHET reviews international developments as a component of their overall examination of the evolving epidemiology of Covid-19 and are informed by the international scientific evidence, and guidance by international bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). WHO and ECDC guidance is formulated in the context of considered appraisal of the international experience and accumulating scientific evidence in relation to COVID-19.

As the Deputy is aware, a person, without reasonable excuse, must 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 regulations relating to face coverings have recently been amended to include post offices, credit unions and banks.

Face coverings are also recommended in situations where physical distancing may not be possible, in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

My Department appreciates the challenges experienced by those with medical difficulties during Covid-19. However, there are no plans, at this time, to introduce documentation for those deemed medically exempt from wearing face coverings, in the manner proposed by the Deputy.

The relevant Regulations in relation to face coverings which remain in place until 9 June, 2021 can be found at: https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/1f150-view-statutory-instruments-related-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/

The current advice in relation to face coverings is available at https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/face-masks-disposable-gloves.html and http://www.gov.ie/facecoverings/.