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Gardaí 'a last resort' as shop staff to bear the burden of policing face mask wearing


Face masks must be worn in shops from Monday

Face masks must be worn in shops from Monday

Face masks must be worn in shops from Monday

Gardaí will only be called "as a last resort" to deal with people who refuse to wear face masks in shops from next week, Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said.

Ms McEntee said that the Government hoped law enforcement would only be needed in a small minority of cases, as has happened with rules about masks on public transport.

Face coverings will be mandatory in retail outlets and shopping centres from Monday, August 10.

Staff in shops will need to ask members of the public to put on a mask before they enter the store.

Since last month, people using public transport have been required by law to wear a mask.


Exceptions are made in a small number of cases, including where a person has a health condition which would stop them being able to wear one.

Speaking yesterday, Ms McEntee said the Government was taking a "similar approach" to rules for face masks in shops to rules for face masks on public transport.

Ms McEntee said shop staff would initially need to try to enforce the new rules.

"The retail outlet or the shopkeeper would go to extent to show that, perhaps with signage, that masks need to be worn on the premises.

"If someone is without one or remains inside the premises without one, there would be engagement with them and the retail outlet - either the owner or the person working in the shop.

"In a last resort, An Garda Síochána would be called," the Health Minister said.

Ms McEntee said throughout the pandemic, the Government had "engaged with people and asked them to comply" with new rules, including the need to wear face masks in public.

"In the vast majority of cases, people have done that.


"If we look at transport and the introduction of face coverings, there has been a huge level of compliance and it's only in a small minority of cases that the gardaí have needed to step in.

"So we hope that this would be the case," she said.

Taoiseach Micheál Marint confirmed this week that face masks would become mandatory in all shops and shopping centres from Monday, August 10.

Mr Martin said throughout lockdown the public had shown that when "given a clear direction, they follow it".

"We need to wear a mask when on public transport and in retail settings," Mr Martin said.