Not the shopkeeper’s job to enforce mask regulation – Healy-Rae

‘We have enough to do to run shops’ without enforcing Government regulations, says TD

Michael Healy-Rae is fortunate as most customers at the family’s supermarket and filling station in Kilgarvan are prepared to wear face masks. Photograph: Collins Courts

Michael Healy-Rae is fortunate as most customers at the family’s supermarket and filling station in Kilgarvan are prepared to wear face masks. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae believes shopkeepers should not have to enforce mask regulations, but he is fortunate as customers at the family’s supermarket and filling station in Kilgarvan are prepared to wear them.

Over the course of an hour or so around noon on Tuesday, 90 per cent of people, locals and visitors alike, obeyed the regulations and donned face masks before entering the busy shop and filling station in the south Kerry village.

Michael Healy-Rae himself donned one as he went for a cup of coffee during a break from building work on a nearby house, but he repeated his view that it is not the job of shopkeepers to enforce the Government’s regulation.

“I would say we have nearly 100 per cent compliance. People are happy to comply, but it shouldn’t be up to shopkeepers to enforce it. We have enough to do to run shops, our job is not enforce it.

“I’m not going to stop you going in to the shop if I see you are not wearing a mask. I might politely say to you ‘The next time, you are coming in, you might think of the old mask.’

“But you’ll remember it yourself because if you’ve forgotten it, you will quickly realise it when you see everybody else wearing a mask. Nobody wants not to be compliant,” he declared.

Michael’s wife, Eileen, who manages the store, reckoned there was 90 per cent plus compliance: “The morning lads are in a bit of a hurry and they forget, but as the morning moves on, they’re nearly all wearing masks.”

Fine of €2,500

Cork couple Brian and Mildred Callinan enjoyed a coffee outside the shop following a short break in Killarney but, unlike Healy-Rae, they believe shopkeepers should enforce the regulation which carries a €2,500 fine if breached.

“Shopkeepers have to start telling people that they can’t come in without a mask,” said Mildred, “We need proper enforcement, otherwise we are never going to get out of it.”

Her husband agreed: “We have a law saying people have to wear masks so I don’t see how the shopkeeper has any choice in the matter. We’ve been getting good advice but we were lacking the legislation to back it up – until now.”

Jeff Rousseau, originally from near La Rochelle in France but living in Kenmare for 18 years, wore a mask as he entered the shop, though he does not like doing so as he has asthma. Nevertheless, he feels he should wear one.

“I think we are handling it well in Ireland. People are showing common sense. Most people are wearing masks. I have asthma, so I find it difficult to breathe with a mask but I am making the effort,” he said.

Wearing a bandana-style mask, Kilgarvan local Graham Fitzgerald agreed with Healy-Rae, though he feels peer pressure will do its job: “If you go into a shop now without a mask, you almost feel that people are looking at you oddly.”