CORK retailers reported a high level of compliance in relation to the wearing of face coverings in shops and shopping centres today.
Following a Cabinet meeting last month, the government announced that the wearing of face coverings would be made mandatory in shops, retail settings, and shopping centres.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said regulations would take some time to draft but added people should start obeying the guidance immediately.
From today these new laws came into effect.
Similar to the regulations requiring people to wear face masks on public transport, people flouting the rules could face fines of up to €2,500 or face six months imprisonment.
Across Cork today, most shoppers were adhering to the new rules.
Speaking to The Echo John Hartnett, manager at Blackpool Shopping Centre reported a high level of compliance.
He said that retailers in the Centre have not yet put up signage to advise customers that the wearing of face coverings is mandatory but are instead opting to remind anyone not wearing one at the door. “It’s softly softly still,” he said.
Mr Hartnett said he is very much in favour of the move to make face coverings in shops mandatory.
“If this helps us get through it then yes, of course. We’re all in it together.
“I’m no medical expert. If that’s what they’re telling us to do to get through it then that’s what we have to do,” he said.
Similarly in Wilton Shopping Centre, customers were being cooperative, according to Susanne Irwin, Manager of Wilton Shopping Centre.
“There’s been a very good response to it.
“We have someone at the doors and generally people have been brilliant.
“Someone would come in and if they don’t have it on, it’s almost always just a case of they have left it in their car or something.
“One or two didn’t have them and just bought a two pack inside in Boots.
“There’s been no confrontation or anything,” she added.
Ms Irwin said that prior to the new regulations coming into effect, the majority of people had already been wearing a face covering.
“In fairness customers coming in here have been very good throughout.
“I’d say 95% of people were wearing them but that’s up to 99.9% today now.
“When you think there is a €2,500 fine it’s easier to go away and buy a two or three euro mask,” she laughed.
As well as shops and shopping centres, it is now compulsory to wear a face covering in establishments such as libraries, cinemas, museums, hair salons, nail salons, and laundrettes.
Circumstances where it is acceptable not to wear a face covering include; those who cannot wear or remove a face covering because of any physical or mental illness, those with an impairment or disability, those who need to communicate with another person who has difficulties communicating and those who need to remove the face covering to take medication.
Children under 13 years of age are also exempt from the regulations.