Michael Healy-Rae admits he will not enforce face masks rule in his shop

The Kerry TD said his staff will not stop people from coming into his shop if they are not wearing a face-covering.
Michael Healy-Rae admits he will not enforce face masks rule in his shop

Deputy Healy-Rae said for those who do not have a mask on, he could give them "a little gentle reminder". Photo: Collins

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae has said it shouldn't be the job of shopkeepers to enforce the wearing of face masks.

They are now mandatory in retail settings including shops, shopping centres, hairdressers and cinemas.

People who do not comply could be fined €2,500 and/or face a potential prison sentence.

However, the Kerry TD, who runs a petrol station and supermarket in Kilgarvan, said he will not be turning away customers who are not wearing a mask.

He said: "I or anybody working for me, we're not going to be at the door saying to a person coming in 'Well, you're not allowed in here if you don't wear a face mask'.

"Of course we have the signs up reminding people that it is mandatory and at the work station where the sanitiser and all of that equipment is on the way into the shop.

We are highly recommending to people that they do obey, but we're not enforcers of the law.

"We want people to adhere to the proper and safe practice, I believe it is right, no more than in the Dáil, I believe it is right that we're asked to wear masks and I comply with it myself personally - but I also want everybody else to do so."

Deputy Healy-Rae told Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show that he wants to make clear the answer he gave to a journalist from the Independent on a podcast, by saying that he does not want to seem "heavy-handed".

"They asked me the question would I be enforcing and would I be asking my customers to wear face masks: and to be honest the answer I gave was 'no'.

"But when asked by the Independent was I going to be enforcing it, the clear answer I gave was 'no, I was not'".

"And I find it hard to believe that every other shop keeper - I don't believe it's our job, we should, of course, remind people [and] have the signs up, but not to be saying 'You're not allowed in here if you don't have the mask on'."

He said for those who do not have a mask on, he could give them "a little gentle reminder".

"But what I would have a problem with and what I obviously wouldn't like is what I would call a repeat offender.

But I really don't believe that it's the place of a shop-keeper to be trying to man the door... because I think they'll want to do it anyway themselves.

Asked if there is extra onus on him as a TD representing the area, he said: "My job, as well as being an elected representative, I'm keeping a lot of people in employment.

"I want to make my shop attractive for people to come in and call in to do their bit of shopping when they're passing the road.

"I certainly don't want to be a person with a heavy hand".

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