Know your rights: Wearing face coverings

Now that face coverings are mandatory in shops, I am concerned as I can’t wear a face covering?

Face coverings are not suitable for everyone and the law recognises this. For instance, children under 13 do not have to wear one. Even in places where face coverings are now mandatory such as public transport and in most shops, pharmacies, hair salons and other retail environments, you don’t have to wear one if you have a reasonable excuse.

If you have a reasonable excuse to not wear a face covering you should tell a member of staff in the shop or tell the driver or inspector on public transport.  But what exactly is a reasonable excuse?

You have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if you:  

  • Cannot wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or a disability, or because it would cause you severe distress
  • Need to communicate with someone who has difficulties communicating
  • Remove your face covering to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person or to provide emergency assistance to someone
  • Remove your face covering to take medication
  • Remove your face covering to avoid harm or injury

You don’t have to wear a face covering in post offices, credit unions or banks, sit-in restaurants or cafés or medical or dental offices.

Certain people do not have to wear one. For example, retail workers and drivers of public transport do not have to wear a face covering when they are separated by a screen from the public. Members of the Garda Síochána do not have to wear a face covering when performing their duties.

You can read more about when you need to wear a face covering on and you can access our video on how to wear a face covering.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on