Ministers response to compulsory wearing of face masks by customers in banks slammed by Financial Services Union

Issued : 27 October 2020

The recent response from the Minster for Health on adding banks to the list of workplaces  where the wearing of face masks by customers  would be compulsory has been described as contradictory and outdated by John O’Connell the General Secretary of the Financial Services Union.

In a reply to a parliamentary question tabled by Ged Nash, Finance spokesperson for the Labour Party Minister Harris stated that that the wearing of face coverings are not mandatory in premises such as bank branches/credit unions/post offices for both public health and security reasons.

Commenting on the reply Mr O’Connell criticised the Minister saying that the authorities  in Northern Ireland had added Banks to the list of workplaces where the wearing of face masks would be compulsory and there was no good reason why the same approach should not be taken in the /Republic of Ireland

“Every day we hear the Minister advocating an all-Ireland approach to tackling the corona virus. His failure to copy the sensible approach taken in Northern Ireland on the compulsory wearing of face masks by customers in Banks is contradictory to his stated position. At the moment some customers are wearing masks, and some are not. The Ministers statement that there are security reasons seems to suggest that customers wearing face should remove them before they enter the bank. It is an extraordinary statement from a Minister for Health “ stated Mr O’Connell.

“Minister Donnelly should take a sensible and proactive approach and adopt an all-Ireland approach on wearing of face masks in public places and add banks to the list of places where the wearing of face masks is compulsory” concluded Mr O’Connell

QUESTIONTo ask the Minister for Health if banks will be added to the list of workplaces in which the wearing of face masks is mandatory (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) in line with Northern Ireland

REPLYI would like to assure the Deputy that the public health advice relating to Covid-19, including that relating to face coverings, is kept under continuous review by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

As the Deputy is no doubt aware, a person, without reasonable excuse, must wear a face covering when using public transport, in retail outlets, shops and shopping centres, in other indoor spaces such as libraries, cinemas and cinema complexes, theatres, concert halls, bingo halls, museums, businesses carrying out cosmetic nail care or nail styling, hair care or hair styling, tattoo and piercing services, travel agents and tour operators, laundries and dry cleaners and licensed bookmakers.

The relevant Regulations, which remain in place until 9 November 2020, are -

  • Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (Face Coverings on Public Transport) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 405/2020),
  • Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (Face Coverings in certain premises and businesses) Regulations 2020 (S.I No. 404/2020),


The Deputy may wish to note that the wearing of face coverings are not mandatory in premises such as bank branches/credit unions/post offices for both public health and security reasons. By their nature, these locations are controlled environments where social distancing for members of the public should be attainable. There are also security requirements in terms of ensuring the identities of people entering a financial institution.

The current advice in relation to face coverings is available at -https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/face-masks-disposable-gloves.html and http://www.gov.ie/facecoverings/