Face Coverings Now Mandatory in Indoor Spaces
11 August 2020
With effect from 10 August 2020, the Irish Government has made the wearing of face coverings mandatory by members of the public in retail and other indoor settings such as hairdressers, cinemas, libraries and museums. This is to continue until 5 October 2020. Penalties are provided under the Health Act 1947 (as amended in 2020) which also provides for mandatory face coverings on public transport. The penalty for not wearing a face mask is a €2,500 fine and/or six months imprisonment.
The question of responsibility for enforcement is a live issue with retailers reluctant to take the front-line responsibility for this. Commentators from Retail Ireland (representing retail employers) have stressed that while retail staff will be happy to encourage the use of face coverings, they should not be expected to enforce the measures as this could lead to potential disputes between staff and customers. Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee has stated that Gardai enforcement in retail should be considered as a last resort.
Children under the age of 13 are not advised to wear a mask. This exemption is extended to anyone over that age who may have breathing difficulties, any person who may have problems communicating, and/or any person with a physical or mental disability who may feel distressed while wearing a mask or have difficulties putting it on and taking it off.