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Wearing a face covering for Coronavirus in Cork

What you need to know

In this article, we review the latest official guidance from HSE (Health Service Executive) on the wearing of face coverings. As we know all too well today, daily life in Cork has changed significantly since the first local case of Covid-19 was confirmed back in the first week of March.

Just a couple of months ago, phrases such as ‘social distancing’, ‘physical distancing’ and ‘cocooning’ were unheard of. Now, those phrases are a common feature of our everyday vocabulary. With public health measures changing frequently as the pandemic situation evolves, you may be uncertain of what you should be doing right now to protect yourself and others from Coronavirus.

Questions we are commonly asked here at Irwin’s Pharmacies these days include – what’s the latest advice on Coronavirus? Should I be wearing a face covering in public? What type of face coverings do I need? To answer those questions and more, let’s take a look at the latest public health guidance on wearing face coverings in Ireland.

Should you wear a face covering?

As of 16th May 2020, the HSE are advising that we should wear a face covering in situations where it is difficult for us to practice social distancing. In situations where it’s not so easy to stay a safe distance from others, such as in shops or on public transport, a cloth face covering is now recommended. The HSE advise that face coverings may help to prevent people who don’t realise they have the virus from spreading it to others.

As of May 16th, HSE are advising –

We should wear a face covering in situations where it is not easy to practice social distancing.

When wearing your face covering…

HSE stress that while we are wearing a face covering, it’s vitally important that we still do the other important things that are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus –

When wearing a face covering, continue to:


What type of face covering should you wear?

HSE are recommending that we wear a cloth face covering.

HSE guidelines as of May 16th says –

Wearing a cloth face covering in public may reduce the spread of coronavirus in the community. It may help to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets from people infected with coronavirus.

Cloth face coverings should be made from materials such as cotton or silk. Increasingly, cloth face coverings are available to purchase in Cork and online. You should also be able to purchase a face covering at your local pharmacy, such as here at Irwin’s, as long as they remain available from our suppliers. Alternatively, you can make face coverings at home using ordinary items such as towels, sweatshirts or scarfs.

RTE have produced an informative video showing us how to make face coverings for Coronavirus protection – video on YouTube.

Health authorities are keen to stress that the general public should wear ‘non-medical’ masks. It’s vital that medical grade masks are available for the healthcare workers and other specific workers that require them. Medical grade face masks are vital supplies which are not intended for the general public.

Health authorities are working to ensure that medical masks are reserved for use by healthcare workers and other key workers who need them.

When should you wear a face covering?

Health authorities advise that you may choose to wear a face covering when:

Who should not wear a face covering?

Cloth face coverings aren’t suitable for everyone. Official guidance states that you should not wear a face covering if you are:

Health authorities insist that –

We do not criticise or judge people who are not able to wear a covering.

How should you wear a face covering?

To be as effective as possible, cloth face coverings should cover the nose and go over the chin. The face covering should:

How long should a face covering last?

Your face covering should be disposed of when:


The do’s and don’ts of using your face covering properly

HSE advice on how to use your face covering properly includes:



  1. Always wash your hands before you put your face covering on.
  2. Practice putting your face covering on and taking it off until it becomes familiar and comfortable to do so.
  3. Ensure your face covering is made from a fabric you find comfortable.
  4. Ensure the covering fully covers your nose and mouth, with no gaps.
  5. Tie it securely.
  6. Don’t forget to carry unused coverings with you in a sealed bag.
  7. Carry an empty sealable bag to put your used coverings in.



  1. Remember to avoid touching your face while you are wearing a covering. If you do touch your face, wash your hands thoroughly as soon as possible.
  2. Never use a wet or soiled face covering.
  3. Never share your face covering with others.
  4. Do not lower your face covering to speak, eat, smoke or vape. If you take your face covering off, put it in a secure bag that’s only to contain your used face coverings.
  5. Do not discard your face covering in a public place.


Contact your local Cork pharmacist

If you are a local person in Cork who wants advice about face coverings, Coronavirus or any other health concerns, call your local pharmacist at Irwin’s today on 021 430 4165 or contact us online.

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