Following on from previous emails to the Department, we have now contacted the Minister to finally get confirmation on what the Departments sees “extreme distress” as meaning as this is currently being utilised by non-mask wearers. We will continue to seek confirmation until we are happy with the response from the Department.
Minister, the purpose of this letter is to provide assistance to society, not to criticise your Department.
CSNA represents 1,500 retailers in the convenience, forecourt and Newsagents sector, all of which were designated as providing essential services in the early days of the C-19 crisis.
I have engaged repeatedly with your Department via both the Department of Enterprise and the secretariat of the Retail Consultation Forum to highlight what we consider to be an unnecessary provision of a category of persons permitted NOT to wear a face covering, those that self declare to suffer “extreme distress “.
The provision for exclusion of mandatory wearing of a face covering for disabilities, both physical and mental conditions are perfectly understandable , as is an age limit, but the “extreme distress” provision is totally unacceptable given the fact that it is being utilised by “non-maskers” to enter our premises and demand service.
I have asked your officials on 3 separate occasions to advise me that they consider that those using “extreme distress” as a reason not to wear a face covering could not be considered to have a claim for compensation on grounds of disability, whether by way of refusal of entry or refusal of service.
This provision is not necessary, is divisive, and should be removed from the SI.
It would appear that an Amarach survey done by your Department shows a high, but not overwhelming ,adherence to wearing face Coverings; It is possible that you are aware of the reasons that the 14% of men and 9% of women gave for non adherence ,but if one in 7 men and one in 10 women continue to act with disregard for their fellow citizens, we all have a problem.
It may be necessary to consider requesting those people with genuine medical reasons not to wear a face covering to carry some type of externally provided affirmation of their condition, similar to the blue badge used by disabled drivers to signify their entitlement to avail of “preferential “parking and access facilities.
Our members are incurring significant levels of bad behaviour from a small cohort of people intent on disruption for their own personal/political “gain”; the continuation of the “extreme distress “ provision in SI296 emboldens them, please remove it.