Public Health advice has recommended the use of face coverings to help stop the spread of COVID-19. On August 10th, new public health laws were introduced which made face coverings mandatory for all (aged 13+) using public transport and in shops and other retail outlets. These new laws will be in place until at least the 5th of October.
Face coverings are now mandatory for those aged 13+ in certain places which include:
- Public Transport
- Shops, including pharmacies
- Shopping centres
- Cinemas and cinema complexes
- Concert halls
- Bingo halls
- Nail salons
- Hair salons and barbers
- Tattoo and piercing parlours
- Travel agents and tour operators
- Laundries and dry cleaners
In some situations, you may be asked to remove your face covering, for example to verify your age or identity to staff.
It is also acceptable to remove your face covering while:
- At a post office, credit union or bank
- Eating and drinking at a restaurant or café
- Undergoing medical or dental services
While face coverings are useful in stopping the spread of COVID-19, they are not suitable for some people. For example, those under 13 years are not required to wear face coverings. Living with MS is not necessarily a reason not to wear a face covering. Many people living with MS will be able to comply with these mandatory measures. Some people, who for instance are physically unable to put on or remove a face covering would be exempt from doing so.
Reasonable excuses include if you:
- Cannot put a face covering on because of a physical or mental illness
- Need to communicate with someone who has difficulties communicating
- Are providing care to a vulnerable person
- Are taking medication
If you cannot use a face covering, you may have to explain your reason to a member of staff in the particular setting or service you are in.
Penalties for non-compliance
Those who do not wear a face covering or ignore a request to wear one may get:
- A fine of up to €2,500
- Up to 6 months imprisonment
- Both a fine and imprisonment
Face Coverings and Cocooning
Current Public Health advice strongly recommends wearing a face covering in situations where social distancing is difficult, for example, when visiting people who are cocooning.
If you are cocooning, you and anyone visiting you or that you are visiting should wear face coverings.
While wearing a face covering you should still:
- Maintain a 2 metre distance from others.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.
- Use good respiratory etiquette
Further advice for those cocooning can be found here: https://www.ms-society.ie/covid-19-measures-and-cocooning
How to use a face covering
- Always wash your hands before putting on the face covering
- Avoid touching it while you are wearing it
- If you accidently touch the front, wash your hands immediately
- Ensure the material fully covers your nose and mouth.
- You should check that it is tied securely and fits snugly against the side of your face.
- Keep your spare face coverings in a clean, waterproof bag (such as a ziplock bag). You should carry a similar bag for used face coverings. Label these bags clearly so that you do not mix them up.
- If you are a smoker, do not lift up your face covering to smoke. Instead, remove it completely and place it in your ‘used’ ziplock bag.
- When you are removing your face covering, do so using the strings at the back or the ear loops. Do not touch the front.
- If your face covering is disposable, throw it in a bin immediately after use.
- If it is reusable, you should wash it in hot water (60 degrees or hotter) with detergent.
- It is advised that reusable face coverings be washed daily.
Detailed information from the Government can be found here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/aac74c-guidance-on-safe-use-of-face-coverings/#cloth-face-coverings
Information on face coverings from Citizens Information can be found here: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/health/covid19/face_coverings_during_covid19.html
A video on how to correctly wear a face covering can be found here: https://youtu.be/OBR0udoIaiY
A video showing how to make face coverings can be found here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/aac74c-guidance-on-safe-use-of-face-coverings/#cloth-face-coverings