Retail News has received the following note from the Irish government via RGDATA on the new face covering regulations for businesses:
Regulations on wearing face coverings in certain premises and businesses
Information for stakeholders - 6 th August 2020
In line with National Public Health Emergency Team recommendations targeted at minimising the impact of Covid-19 and Government policy, the Department of Health in consultation with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is preparing Regulations to provide for the wearing of face coverings by people using certain premises and businesses. The draft Regulations require that persons shall not, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain in a ‘relevant premises’ without wearing a face covering.
A key element is that the Regulations will provide that a ‘responsible person’ - the occupier, manager or other person in charge of a relevant premises - shall take reasonable steps to engage with people entering or who are in the premises to inform them of the requirement to wear a face covering and to promote compliance with that requirement.
Wearing a face covering
The Regulations will provide that people shall not, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain in a relevant premises without wearing a face covering. This will be an offence. The Regulations will make some exceptions to this requirement and will not apply
➢ to children aged under the age of 13 years
➢ to the responsible person or to employees where a screen separates the employee and other persons or where a distance of at least two metres is maintained between that person and other persons, or
➢ a member of An Garda Síochána acting in the course of their duties
“Relevant premises” will be defined in the Regulations. These include shops, shopping centres, libraries, travel agents and tour operators, laundries and premises where cosmetic nail care and hair care services are provided. The draft list is given at the end of this document.
Reasonable excuse for not wearing a face covering includes (but is not limited to) –
➢ not being able to wear a face covering due to illness, impairment, disability or because it gives rise to severe distress
➢ to facilitate communication with a person who has communication difficulties
➢ to provide emergency assistance to another person or to provide care to a vulnerable person
➢ to avoid harm or injury
➢ to take medication
➢ removing a face covering to facilitate identification
➢ removing a face covering to facilitate the provision of healthcare / healthcare advice.
It will be an offence not to wear a face covering when entering or when in a relevant premises (subject to a fine of €2,500 or 6 months in prison (or both). As this requirement will be deemed a penal provision for the purposes of section 31A of the Health Act 1947, it will also be an offence not to comply with a direction of a member of the Garda Síochána given to a person with a view to ensuring compliance with the Regulation (and the Garda concerned may arrest the person concerned without warrant).
However, it is envisaged (as has been the case with previous Regulations made in accordance with section 31A) that these powers will be used sparingly and that cooperation by members of the public with the provisions of the Regulations will be achieved through engagement, advice, guidance and assistance.
These will be specified premises, services and businesses: an indoor premises, or a part of such a premises, to which the public has access -
➢ where goods are sold directly to the public
➢ shopping centres
➢ cinemas and cinema complexes
➢ concert halls
➢ bingo halls
➢ cosmetic nail care or nail styling
➢ hair care or hair styling
➢ tattoo and piercing services
➢ travel agents and tour operators
➢ laundries and dry cleaners
➢ licensed bookmakers.
There will be some exclusions:
➢ post offices, credit unions and banks
➢ premises, or part of a premises in which the principal activity is the sale of food or beverages for consumption on the premises, or
➢ premises, or part of a premises in which the principal activity is the provision of medical or dental services or other healthcare services (other than pharmacy outlets, optician and optometrist outlets and outlets providing hearing test services or selling hearing aids and appliances).