Face coverings in public places: what you need to know
As of today, it’s the law to wear a face covering, like a disposable or reusable face mask, when you’re in most indoor public places. Here at Bloomfield, we’ve been following strict infection control measures for a while, so this is nothing new to us! But in case you’re not sure what the new law means for you, here’s what you need to know.
Where do I need to wear a face covering?
It was already the law to wear a face covering on public transport, but now you’ll have to wear them in lots more places. The list includes shopping centres and most indoor shops, including pharmacies; cultural amenities like libraries, museums, cinemas, theatres, and music venues; places like barbershops, hair and nail salons, and tattoo and piercing parlours; services like laundries and dry cleaners; travel agents and tour operators; and bookmakers and bingo halls. There may be others and this list may be updated as time moves on. Staff in these places must also wear a face covering, unless they are behind a partition or can maintain a two meter distance from customers and coworkers.
Does anyone not have to wear a face covering?
The HSE does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 13. This is not because they will make it more difficult for children to breath; face coverings do not lower the amount of oxygen you receive when you’re going about your day-to-day business. However, young children may not follow the advice about wearing them correctly, and may not understand the importance of not touching them. There are other exceptions, such as people who cannot wear them for physical or mental health reasons, or those who need to communicate with someone who has difficulty communicating . If you have concerns about your ability to wear a face covering, you should talk to your GP.
What happens if I don’t wear one?
If you don’t wear a face mask or covering when required by law, and you don’t have a valid reason for refusing to wear one, you could face a fine of up to €2,500 and/or six months in jail. At the moment, the law is in place until October 5, but that might change depending on how the virus spreads. Remember, it’s about protecting the people who need it most.
Can I be asked to take it off for any reason?
There are times when a staff member might need to see your face for identification purposes, like when you have to buy age-restricted items like alcohol or lottery tickets. The law takes this into account.
Is there anywhere I don’t have to wear one?
Post offices, credit unions, and banks are excluded, as are indoor facilities that include any of these three services. If a place sells food or drinks that are mainly served and consumed on the premises, like a restaurant, that place is exempt, too. This is also the case when somewhere provides mainly dental, medical, or some other healthcare services.
What about other places?
Even though it’s not required by law, it is recommended that you wear a face covering in any situation where social distancing is difficult. This includes when you’re visiting family members or others who may be vulnerable or cocooning. Wearing a face covering helps to protect them from the virus.
Anything else I should know?
Don’t touch the front of your face covering; remove it using the ties or ear loops. Keep washing your hands regularly, including before and after you take your face covering on and off. If you use a disposable face covering, dispose of it correctly straight away. If you use a reusable face covering, when you take it off place it in a ziplock bag until you can wash it. Keep fresh and used face coverings separately.