Face masks explainer: The new rules coming into effect 

Face masks explainer: The new rules coming into effect 
People wear face masks in Cork city to protect themselves from Covid-19. Picture: Andy Gibson

Last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that face masks should be worn in in shops and shopping centres across the country, in an attempt to control the spread of Covid-19. 

Wearing of cloth face coverings may help prevent people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it to others.

So what does that mean in practice? 

What are the current guidelines?

Since Monday, face coverings have been required on public transport.

Wearing a cloth face covering is also currently recommended in situations where it is difficult to practice social distancing, for example in shops.

Who will be affected? 

Face coverings should be worn by all customers. Retail staff will also be required to wear a face covering unless there is a partition between them and members of the public or where there is a distance of two metres between them and members of the public.

When are the new guidelines coming into force? 

That hasn't been confirmed yet. Mr Martin said last night that regulations, with details on enforcement and penalties, are in the process of being drafted.

How to wear one

Will there be exemptions? 

Yes, current regulations acknowledge not everyone can wear a mask and this is likely to remain the case. 

Who should not wear one?

The Government say cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13 and anyone who:

* has trouble breathing 

* is unconscious or incapacitated 

* is unable to remove it without help 

* has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering 

The Government also asks the public not to criticise or judge people who are not able to wear a face covering.

What to wear 

People wear face masks in Bantry to protect themselves against Covid-19. Picture: Andy Gibson
People wear face masks in Bantry to protect themselves against Covid-19. Picture: Andy Gibson

Cloth face coverings are made from materials such as cotton, silk, or linen.

You can buy them or make them at home using items such as scarfs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

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