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:

Know your rights: How exactly will grades be calculated for Leaving Certificate 2020?

In 2020, you can opt to have your grades based on a new calculated grades system. A calculated grade is based on an estimated mark that you would get in a subject in the Leaving Certificate examination in normal circumstances.

You will be awarded a State Certificate of Calculated Grades for each subject in the Leaving Certificate.  This has the same status as the Leaving Certificates in previous years. You can still opt to sit the conventional written Leaving Certificate exam at a later date when it’s possible.

There are 4 key steps to working out a calculated grade:

Step 1: Your teacher will estimate the mark you would likely have got in the Leaving Certificate subject under normal conditions. They will use a range of records and evidence such as your classwork, homework, class assessments, Christmas and summer exams, mock exams and coursework.

Your teacher will also estimate your expected mark in the oral and practical performance tests.  Previously, the Department of Education had awarded all students full marks for this option but this no longer applies.

You will be given a single overall estimated percentage mark in the subject. Your teacher will then estimate where you rank in relation to other students in your class.

Step 2: All the subject teachers in your school will then review the marks and rank all the school’s students for that subject. Your teacher will finalise your estimated percentage marks and ranking. The deputy principal will review the ranking with your teacher if they are the only teacher of the subject.

Step 3: Your school principal will review the marks and rankings and check that the process has been fair before sending the final estimated marks and class rankings to the Department.

Step 4: The Department will apply a standardisation process. This takes the estimated marks from each school and adjusts them to bring them into the rankings for the expected grades for that school based on the historical information held by the State Examinations Commission.

Your estimated marks for your subject will then be converted into your final calculated grade.

You can appeal your results. This will check that the correct information has been used and the process has been fair. It cannot review the percentage mark from your teacher. You will still have the option to sit the written exam. If you get a higher grade in the exam than your calculated grade, your results for the subject will be amended.

You cannot discuss the estimated marks with your teacher or any school staff.

Read more in our document about calculated grades and the Department of Education’s FAQs.

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

Know your rights: Returning to work

I’m wondering when I can return to work? Where can I get information about the rules that will apply?

The Government has set out a Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business (pdf) to ease COVID-19 restrictions in a phased manner from 18 May 2020.

The plan sets out five stages for unlocking restrictions, at 3-week intervals. These dates may change depending on public health advice.

During phase 1 (18 May 2020) you may return to your workplace if you work mainly outdoors. This may include construction workers, gardener and some retail jobs where the shop floor is outdoors (for example, garden centres).

During phase 2 (8 June 2020) you may be able to return to your workplace if you work more at least 2 metres from other workers, or mainly work alone and you cannot work remotely.

In phase 3 (29 June 2020) some businesses may reopen where remote work is not possible, provided they can maintain social distancing including:

  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Non-essential shops
  • Organisations with low levels of interaction between employees

From phase 4 (20 July 2020) workplaces where remote working is not possible may be able to reopen where social distancing can be maintained. This could involve introducing shift work or staggered opening hours to keep staff apart. These restrictions will be gradually lifted so that workplaces where contact is unavoidable (for example hairdressers) may be able to reopen.

From phase 5 (10 August 2020) all sectors may gradually return to work. This may be staggered and restrictions will be lifted bit by bit.

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

Know your rights: Teaching and learning at home

I am trying to teach my 6-year-old at home during the COVID-19 public health emergency. What resources are available to support parents?

First of all, make sure you keep in touch with your child’s school and teacher. Your role is to support your child’s schoolwork, your school should give you help and guidance and your child’s class teacher should keep in contact with the children in the class and assign them work to do. Your child’s teacher should also give feedback on schoolwork to ensure that students stay motivated and focused while working at home.

The Department of Education and Skills has useful tips for parents:  

  • Remember to take breaks. Break up the schoolwork with physical and social activities.
  • Don’t insist on sticking to a full schoolwork timetable. You need to be flexible and sensible.  What’s important is that your child makes a good effort each day to complete some schoolwork.
  • Mix it up. Learning isn’t just about sitting with a pen and paper at a desk. Your child can learn from baking, gardening or other family activities.
  • Keep regular mealtimes. Take up physical activity and go outdoors if you can.

You may find these learning resources helpful:

  • RTE Home School Hub broadcasts on RTE 2 from 11am to 12 noon for primary school children from first to sixth class. You can watch it back anytime on the RTE Player and you can also download activity sheets.
  • The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has resources for parents  including tips for primary age children, resources for autism, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy. It also has ideas for play, literacy, attention and listening for primary school classes.
  • You can get advice and resources on how to stay well when schools are closed from the  National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)
  • Scoilnet has free resources for primary and post primary students. 
  • The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has learning resources including for the Irish language and helping your child learn.

Don’t forget to look after yourself:

  • You can find information about Parenting during COVID-19 on gov.ie
  • Parentline helpline is open Monday to Thursday 10am-9pm and Fridays 10am-4pm on 1890 927 277. See parentline.ie.
  • Barnardos National Parent Supportline is open Monday to Friday 10am – 2pm on 1800 910 123.  You can talk directly to qualified staff who can offer practical support and guidance in your role as parents during the COVID-19 emergency. See barnardos.ie

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

Know your rights: Renewing a driving licence during COVID-19

My driving licence is due to expire in May but I don’t know how to renew it during the COVID-19 pandemic. What should I do?

If you are due to renew your driving licence during the COVID-19 emergency period, you may have questions about how (and where) to do this. Here’s what you need to know.

Firstly, you must carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving. If a Garda asks you to produce your driving licence for inspection and you do not have it with you, you must bring it to a Garda station for inspection within 10 days. If you refuse to give the Garda your name and address, the Garda has the power to arrest you and you could be fined up to €2,000.

Usually when your driving licence expires, you must renew it at the National Driving Licence Service (NDLS), or online if you have a Public Services Card and a MyGovID verified account. However, the NDLS is closed until further notice as part of Government measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For this reason, any driving licences (and learner permits) that are due to expire before 30 June 2020 will be valid for a further 4 months. This means that if your document expired or is due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you can add 4 months onto its expiration date.

The following documents will also be valid for a further 4 months:

  • Certificates of competency received on passing a driving test
  • Driver theory test certificates
  • Motorcycle initial basic training certificates

Remember, during COVID-19, you should restrict your movements by staying at home. At present, the only reasons to drive away from home are to:

  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service – see the list of essential service providers
  • Shop for food or essential household goods
  • Collect medical supplies or go to medical appointments
  • Take care of essential family needs, such as caring for children, older people or other vulnerable people

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

Know your rights: Registering a birth during COVID-19

I’m due to give birth later this month. How do I register my baby’s birth and get Child Benefit?

Having a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic can leave you with many questions, especially about how to register their birth and apply for Child Benefit.

Legally, you must register your baby’s birth within 3 months of their arrival. Usually, births need to be registered by the parent(s) in person at a civil registration office. However, a new form called BR1.5 allows all births to be registered by email or post. After you do this, you can get your baby’s birth certificate and they will be assigned a PPS number – you will need these to apply for a passport, enrol in school, and for many other purposes. There is no fee for registration of a birth, there is a €20 fee for a full standard certificate.

To register your baby’s birth:

  • Download and print the BR1.5 form from gov.ie. If you don’t have access to a printer, you can ask your local registration office to send you a blank form to fill out.
  • The mother should fill out the form and provide a copy of her photo ID.
  • If the parents are married to each other, either parent can sign the form. If the parents are not married to each other, both parents must sign the form.
  • You must also provide a contact phone number so that registration staff can verify your information if necessary.
  • Once completed, you can email an image of the signed form to births@welfare.ie. Alternatively, you can post it to your local registration office or to the General Register Office, Government Offices, Convent Road, Roscommon, Co Roscommon F42 VX53.

To apply for Child Benefit:

  • When you register the birth of your baby, the DEASP will automatically begin a Child Benefit claim for them and assign them a PPS number.
  • The DEASP will then send you a partially completed claim form, which you must complete and submit to the DEASP. This form also includes information on how to claim for your new baby online. To apply online, you must have a Public Services Card and a verified MyGovID account. 
  • If you are already getting Child Benefit for another child, your new baby is added to your existing Child Benefit claim when you register their birth.
  • You will get €140 for each eligible child on the first Tuesday of every month. A higher rate is paid for multiple births

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

Know your rights: Access to children

My ex-partner has custody of our children and I have access to them at weekends. During the COVID-19 emergency, can they travel to my home?

The social distancing and travel restrictions in place during the COVID-19 pandemic mean that families are not sure about how access arrangements should operate. COVID-19 has also put additional stresses on families because access to the courts has been severely restricted. The President of the District Court , the Family Lawyers Association of Ireland and the Law Society of Ireland have published guidance on access issues during the COVID-19 emergency.

The key points are:

  • Travel between parents’ homes is allowed for the purpose of facilitating access. Parents are advised to have a copy of the court order with them when travelling for access.
  • The best interests of the child or children involved is the most important consideration, particularly if the child has a compromised immune system.
  • Parents are encouraged to come to their own arrangements for additional or alternative remote contact, such as telephone/Skype/Facetime/WhatsApp, to allow children to have extensive contact with the other parent while reducing the risk of the spread of COVID-19. Parents should make a note of any temporary agreement by text or email.
  • Parents should consider the living arrangements of everyone involved, especially where a parent either is, or lives with someone, in a vulnerable group.
  • Court orders in relation to access remain in place and should be complied with as much as possible, unless otherwise agreed by the parents.
  • If there is no court order in place and an arrangement has been working between parents, this arrangement should continue, unless otherwise agreed by the parents.
  • COVID-19 cannot be used as an excuse to ignore a court order.

Currently, the courts around the country are restricted to urgent business. Applications for breach of access or maintenance are not generally considered to be urgent. Family law cases that were given a hearing date in the Circuit Court after the Easter break have been adjourned. The relevant court office will be in contact with all sides when a new date has been set. You or your solicitor should contact the relevant court office if you believe the matter is urgent. You can get up-to-date information on the Courts Services’ website courts.ie.

If you need support and mediation, the Legal Aid Board has a Legal and Mediation Information Helpline on 1890 615 200 or 01 646 9600, Monday to Friday, 10.00am to 12.30pm and 2.00pm to 4.00pm. You can also contact the Family Mediation Service on 01 646 9637 for general queries on family mediation for existing clients of the mediation service or people who wish to register for family mediation.

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

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
  • Your local Citizens Information Centre: find the phone number on the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.
  • Our email channel: email covid19@citinfo.ie, include your telephone number and and an information officer will call you back within 2 working days.

Know your rights: Shopping safely during the coronavirus restrictions

Is it safe to go shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have a lot of questions about how to shop safely. First of all, you should not leave your house to shop if you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus or if you are over 70 or in a medically-vulnerable group.

If you do go out to shop, you should try to shop in stores that have introduced precautionary measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Things to look out for include:

  • Staff controlling the entry and exit of customers to limit overcrowding
  • Facilities available to clean and sanitise trolleys and baskets between use
  • Provision of hand sanitisers (with a minimum alcohol content of 60+%) at entrances and exits
  • Clear marking on floors to help customers keep to physical distancing measures
  • Separate shopping times for vulnerable and older people

Some tips when shopping are:

  • Take your own shopping bags and, if possible, put items directly into the bags and avoid contact with baskets or trolleys.
  • Sanitise your hands when you enter the store, ideally with your own sanitiser or, if available, that provided by the store.
  • If using a basket or trolley to shop, sanitise its handle. It is not recommended that you wear disposable gloves as they can give you a false sense of security and your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.

When you get home you should:

  • Immediately wash your hands.
  • Put your shopping away as normal. You should always put away your shopping as soon as you get home, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer.
  • It is not necessary to sanitise the outside of food packaging. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way.
  • Wash your hands again after you have put your shopping bags away. It is not essential to sanitise surfaces or shopping bags, but if you do, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how much time is needed before wiping the sanitiser off.

Safefood has published useful guidance on how to shop safely for groceries during the COVID-19 emergency period and you can visit citizensinformation.ie for regularly updated information on COVID-19.

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

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
  • Your local Citizens Information Centre: find the phone number on the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.
  • Our email channel: email covid19@citinfo.ie, include your telephone number and and an information officer will call you back within 2 working days.

Know your rights: Supports during cocooning

What exactly is cocooning and who does it apply to?

Older people need to minimize their risk of infection by staying at home during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This is called cocooning and is advised for everyone over 70 and other medically vulnerable people.

Even within your home, you need to minimise all non-essential contact with other members of your household. If you have been advised to cocoon, you should not go to the shops, leave your home or garden, or go to any gatherings, even if you feel fit and well. You should also avoid all non-essential face-to-face interaction. Instead, you should stay connected to friends and family through the phone or internet.

While some older people can rely on family, friends and neighbors during this difficult period, many will need additional supports.

If you are worried about getting food and medicines while cocooning, the Government has advised older people to arrange support from family, friends and neighbours, and to use online services where possible. Local authorities have established community support helplines that you can call if you need assistance while you are cocooning or self-isolating. You can find information on how to contact your local authority.

Visits from people who give older citizens essential support – such as washing, dressing, and feeding – should continue while adhering to physical distancing guidelines as far as possible. However, if you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment during a cocooning period, talk to your GP or specialist to make sure you continue to receive the care you need.

ALONE is providing a telephone support line, seven days a week from 8am–8pm, for all older people and their families. You can ring 081 822 2024 for advice, reassurance or additional support. This support line is also open to medically vulnerable people. You can visit citizensinformation.ie to read more about Cocooning during COVID-19.

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

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
  • Your local Citizens Information Centre: find the phone number on the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.
  • Our email channel: email covid19@citinfo.ie, include your telephone number and and an information officer will call you back within 2 working days.

Know your rights: COVID-19 and funerals

What are the rules about funerals during the COVID-19 emergency?

If someone close to you has just died, or you know someone who has recently been bereaved, you may have concerns about planning the funeral during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have put together some information about wakes and funerals.

After a bereavement, you should contact your preferred funeral director as soon as you can. During the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral directors will remain open as they are an essential service. Funeral directors and undertakers deal with the burial or cremation arrangements. Your funeral director will have the most up-to-date information and know the details of procedures during the pandemic.

Some traditional funeral customs will not be possible because of the restrictions in place during the COVID-19 emergency period. These include:

  • Wakes at home
  • Having an open casket in repose at the funeral home
  • Washing the body
  • Embalming

Close family members can still attend funeral services burials and cremation provided the social distancing rules are respected. This relates to all funerals, including those of people who have died of COVID-19. There should not be more than 10 people in a church or at the graveside. This number may need to be smaller in small closed spaces and local churches may have other restrictions. If the deceased had no family, close friends may go to the funeral. The Government has published A Guide for the Bereaved during the COVID-19 Pandemic (pdf).

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre advises close contacts and relatives of the deceased to use their own transport to attend the funeral, where possible.

The Irish Hospice Foundation have suggestions about how to support family members through grief and remembering people lost during the pandemic. Following the funeral, you can arrange a memorial service for a later date when restrictions have been lifted. Visit hospicefoundation.ie or call (01) 679 3188.

Information for those affected by bereavement is a publication for people who have been recently bereaved. It provides information and advice on practical and material matters that arise following a death. It includes information on what to do immediately after a death, possible social welfare entitlements, tax, financial and legal issues that may arise and where to go for further information and support. You can visit citizensinformation.ie to download a copy.

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

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
  • Your local Citizens Information Centre: find the phone number on the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.
  • Our email channel: email to covid19@citinfo.ie, include your telephone number and and an information officer will call you back within 2 working days.