With effect from Monday 28 February, the mandatory requirement to wear masks has been removed, while the public health advice that masks should continue to be worn on public transport and in healthcare settings remains.
Wearing a cloth face mask not only helps protect you, but also prevents people who do not know they have COVID-19 (Coronavirus) from spreading it to others.
If you wear one, you should still do the important things necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
not touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
physical distancing (keeping at least 2 metres away from other people)
ventilation (open windows and doors)
cleaning your hands properly and often
Wearing a medical grade face mask instead of a cloth mask is advised for greater protection against COVID-19.
There are many different types of masks available to you.
medical grade masks
Medical grade masks
A medical grade mask, if properly worn, offers greater protection than cloth masks.
A medical grade mask, also known as a surgical mask, is a three-layered, disposable mask. The masks are typically blue or white coloured, labelled as ‘medical’ and carry a CE marking.
Image: Medical grade mask
Any mask you choose should be well-fitted and worn properly.
A respirator /FFP2 mask is a multi-layered mask and has similar filtration values as a medical grade mask.
Respirators provide a tight fit around the wearer’s face and are particularly effective against aerosol transmission. If a respirator, or any face mask, is loose fitting or not worn correctly, it will not offer the same level of protection.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommend that medical grade or FFP2 masks are used by:
anyone over 13 years with a positive COVID-19 test result
anyone over 13 years with symptoms of COVID-19
all close contacts aged over 13 years old for 10 days
vulnerable people in indoor or crowded outdoor places
over-60s in indoor or crowded outdoor places
anyone visiting a healthcare setting or when visiting those who are vulnerable to COVID-19 in any setting
Wearing a cloth face mask in public may reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community. It may help to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets from people infected with COVID-19. They are usually made from cotton or silk and should have at least 2 layers of fabric.
All types of masks, including cloth masks, can significantly reduce community transmission if properly made, well fitted, and appropriately worn.
Face shields and visors are generally not an appropriate type of face mask but people who might have difficulties breathing or a disability or another specific reasonable excuse may wear a face shield or visor instead of a face mask.
If you have COVID-19 or have symptoms of the virus, you must self-isolate. Do this even if you wear a face mask.
It is recommended that the following groups wear a medical grade or FFP2 mask where possible and not a cloth mask;
all individuals aged over 13 years with a positive COVID-19 test result
all individuals aged over 13 years with symptoms of COVID-19
all close contacts aged over 13 years for 10 days
When to wear a mask
Face masks are no longer mandatory but you should still wear maks:
on public transport
in healthcare settings
Who should not wear one
Face masks are not recommended for 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 them
needs to communicate with someone who has learning difficulties, is hard of hearing or deaf.
In these cases, if the person can wear a visor, it will give them some protection. But these are the only times when you should wear a visor. Cloth face masks are a better way to protect yourself from COVID-19.
The vast majority of people are already wearing face masks in shops. Shop owners and managers of premises should engage with people entering or in their premises to inform them that they need to wear face masks and should promote compliance.
To date the Gardaí have adopted an approach of engaging with the public to educate and encourage people to abide by the measures in place and to only use enforcement as a last resort.
It is an offence for a person not to wear a face mask without reasonable excuse in respect of which a Garda may issue a fixed penalty notice of €80.
The vast majority of the public are complying and the expectation is that they will continue to do so and that penalties would only arise in very rare cases.