Minister of Health response on compulsory wearing of face coverings in Banks, Post Offices, Credit Unions is stupid, dangerous, and ill informed.

Issued : 15 January 2021

Minister of Health response on compulsory wearing of face coverings in Banks, Post Offices, Credit Unions is stupid, dangerous, and ill informed.

Campaign will continue to protect the health of staff.

The General Secretary of the Financial Services Union (FSU) John O’Connell has described the response from the Minister of Health to a request to add banks and credit unions to the list of workplaces where the wearing of face covering is compulsory as stupid, dangerous, and ill informed.

In a reply to a parliamentary question submitted by Deputy Ged Nash TD the Minister cited “public health and security reasons “as the excuse not to amend the relevant regulations.

“The Ministers response is a slap in the face for bank staff who are having to work in an environment that puts their health at risk without the protection of a legal requirement for customer to wear a face covering. Our members are incensed that they are been treated differently to other workers in the retail sector stated Mr O’Connell.

Mr O’Connell added:

“The Minister for Health in Northern Ireland amended their regulations months ago and there are no reports that it has become a security concern. The Banks in the Republic of Ireland are asking customers to wear face covering so they obviously have no security concerns either.

I would ask the Minister to publish the advice that he is basing his response on and to immediately take action to protect the health of our members” concluded Mr O’Connell.

Ends

* To ask the Minister for Health if banks and credit unions will be added to the list of workplaces in which the wearing of face coverings is compulsory; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Ged Nash T.D.For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 14 January 2021.

REPLY
I would like to assure the Deputies 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).
It is recommended that face coverings are worn by people in situations where physical distancing may not be possible, such as in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.
As the Deputies are 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 June 2021, are -
Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (Face Coverings in Certain Premises and Businesses) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 571 of 2020).
The Deputies may wish to note that the wearing of face coverings is 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/