The wearing of face coverings in shops throughout Ireland became mandatory this week. So far, reports have been varied as to compliance, and anecdotally it appears that a sizeable minority of shoppers are continuing to conduct their business without wearing a mask.
The move followed a similar order made by the Government in preceding weeks, which required anyone using public transport to wear a suitable face covering.
Breaching the regulations can mean a hefty fine of up to €2,500 or even six months in prison. It is expected that the laws which will cover shops and other indoor spaces will mirror this.
The Government has urged people to begin to comply with the face covering advice immediately, however it has also noted that comprehensive details regarding these regulations will take some time to draw up.
‘I protect you, and you protect me’
In a statement online, Herlihy’s Centra in Fermoy informed customers that ‘all staff will be wearing face masks in-store as of Monday, July 20th’.
The popular Fermoy shop went on to request that ‘all customers do the same because when we all wear them together, I protect you, and you protect me’.
On social media, Riordan’s SuperValu, Fermoy, also confirmed that staff would be wearing face coverings. “As we continue to provide the best possible service to our customers, all of our floor staff will now be wearing face coverings. This will help protect our staff and our customers,” they added.
The issue of who should enforce the wearing of face coverings on public transport has been disputed previously, with representative associations urging members not to enforce these regulations, instead asserting that these incidents should be dealt with by An Garda Síochána.
This debate has also surfaced in the retail industry, with Retail Ireland Director Arnold Dillon stating: “When it comes to enforcement, it is crucial that it does not fall to retail staff to ensure compliance. With incidents of violence and abuse directed at retail staff unfortunately a regular occurrence, it is important that enforcement is left to the appropriate authorities. Retail staff should not be exposed to the potential disputes and discord that might arise.”
Continuing, Mr Dillon called for flexibility when it comes to the application of any new rules for retail staff.
“Retailers have made enormous efforts to protect staff, who are working all day in retail settings, including putting in place screens around cash registers and counters. This needs to be reflected in the approach,” he said.