Despite Government advice to wear face masks in public spaces, compliance is still very low. Face masks should be a requirement in high risk spaces to protect public health as the economy reopens, according to Róisín Shortall, TD and co-leader of the Social Democrats.

Speaking on the matter, Deputy Shortall said, “The Government needs to make its stance on face masks crystal clear and should make the wearing of masks a requirement in all high-risk spaces, with limited exceptions for specified medical conditions. We know that wearing masks helps protect others, and the regulations should follow public health advice. We also owe it to frontline workers in shops and public transport to respect their safety.

“The ongoing indecision about guidance and enforceability is only fuelling confusion. In the absence of clear guidance, usage will remain low and limited to those people who are most vulnerable and anxious, despite evidence that Covid-19 is highly transmissible between asymptomatic carriers.

“Last week it was announced that face masks would be mandatory on public transport, but compliance so far is low and we are still awaiting certainty about how the rules will be enforced.

“Adding to this is the confusion over different types of face masks and who should wear what type of mask. Should at-risk groups wear medical grade masks? Does the HSE consider the single-use, blue and white masks sold in shops to be medical grade or not? What are the quality standards, if any, which apply? These questions are left unanswered.

“As businesses continue to open up, clarity on face masks is absolutely critical. If the public health advice is to wear face masks to protect each other, then the Government should make that a requirement. People need to know what type of mask to wear, where they should be worn, and who will ensure compliance with the rules.”


7th July 2020

Notes to editor:

The HSE identifies three types of face masks:

  1. Cloth face covering
  2. Surgical (or medical) mask
  3. Respirator mask

HSE/HPSC guidance on the use of face masks by the general public is available at the link below:

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is the independent statutory body mandated to enforce competition and consumer protection law in Ireland. Guidance for Business (production and distribution) re COVID-19 face masks is available at the link below:


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