Face masks now mandatory in banks and post offices

Minister changes regulations on face coverings to include additional workplaces

The Government has added banks, credit unions and post offices to the list of workplaces where face masks must be worn to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Department of Health had previously been of the view that the wearing of face masks was not mandatory in such premises as they are "controlled environments where social distancing" should be attainable. In addition, it had argued that there are also security requirements in terms of ensuring the identity of individuals entering a financial institution.

However, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly changed the regulations governing the wearing of face coverings on Tuesday, adding banks, post offices and credit unions to the list of workplaces where the wearing of face coverings is compulsory.

John O'Connell, general secretary of the Financial Services Union (FSU) said: "The FSU launched a campaign several weeks ago seeking this change, so I very much welcome it. Our members were very concerned that they were being treated differently to any other retail staff.

“Concerns increased when the new variant of Covid-19 was identified and the virus became more transmissible.”

Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) chief executive Brian Hayes said: “BPFI and its member banks very much welcome the decision by Government to amend the regulation to make mask wearing mandatory in banks. The safety of customers and staff has been a top priority since March and today’s announcement is extremely helpful as we continue to provide essential services nationwide.”

Labour finance spokesman Ged Nash said it was “inexplicable” how the Minister had repeatedly declined to extend the mandatory wearing of masks to banks, post offices and credit unions when it was compulsory in Northern Ireland and many other jurisdictions.

“Belatedly, common sense has prevailed and this will come as a relief for customer-facing staff, customers themselves and the Financial Services Union who have campaigned for this simple but important workplace health and safety measure to be introduced in law,” Mr Nash said.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times