Know your rights: What are the rules about face coverings?

Wearing a face covering – not a face mask – is recommended for situations where social distancing is difficult, for example, in public indoor areas or on busy public transport.

A face covering is not a medical mask, which should be reserved for healthcare professionals. It is material (usually cotton or linen) that you wear across your nose and mouth using elastic or string. You can buy a face covering or make a face covering.

It is not compulsory to wear a face covering in Ireland and they are not suitable for some people, including for children under 13.

How do I use a face covering?

You should always wash your hands before putting on your face covering. Avoid touching it while you are wearing it (and if you accidently touch the front, wash your hands straight away).

Make sure that the material fully covers your nose and mouth. You should check that it is tied securely and fits snugly against the side of your face.

Keep your spare face coverings in a clean, waterproof bag (such as a ziplock bag). You should carry a similar bag for used face coverings. Label these bags clearly so that you do not mix them up.

If you are a smoker, do not lift up your face covering to smoke. Instead, remove it completely and place it in your ‘used’ ziplock bag.

When you are removing your face covering, do so using the strings at the back. Do not touch the front.

If your face covering is disposable, throw it in a bin immediately after use. If it is re-usable, you should wash it in hot water (60 degrees or hotter) with detergent.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens Information Centres are offering a phone and email service. You can access information and advice from: