COVID-19: What you need to do


The Government has introduced restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Everyone should stay at home except for the specific reasons listed below.

Stay at home

In general you should stay at home. You can leave your house:

  • To exercise within 5 kilometres of your home
  • To go to work, if you cannot work from home and your workplace is open
  • To shop for essential items
  • To attend medical appointments and collect medicines
  • To provide care to someone who needs it
  • To meet with friends outdoors in groups of no more than 4 people

If you leave your home, you should keep a 2-metre distance from other people, except for people you live with.

Work from home if you can

If you can work from home you must work from home.

You can travel to work if you are providing an essential service, or you are a worker with an outdoor occupations (for example, a construction worker) and it is safe to do so.

If you are returning to work, you can read about Returning to work safely.

Restrict your movements after contact with someone who has coronavirus

You should further restrict your movements, by not going to the shops or pharmacy unless it is absolutely necessary, if you:

  • Live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus
  • Are a close contact of a confirmed case of coronavirus
  • Have returned from another country

You are a close contact if, for example, you share accommodation with an infected person or you have had more than 15 minutes face-to-face contact within 2 metres of an infected person.

If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, a public health doctor will tell you this.

Cocooning for people over 70 or medically vulnerable

If you are aged over 70, or you are extremely medically vulnerable to coronavirus, you should stay at home and avoid contact with other people. This is called cocooning.

If you need help, for example, to get essential supplies, there are community supports available.

From 5 May 2020, you can leave your house for exercise or for a drive, but you should continue to avoid contact with other people.

Read more about what cocooning is and what you need to do.

Do not go out to shop if you are in another at-risk group

If you are over 60, or you have certain medical conditions, you are in an at-risk group. This means that you are more at risk of serious illness if you catch coronavirus. You should not go out to shop but should arrange for others to leave supplies at your door. There are community supports available to help you get supplies.

Read more about who is in an at-risk group and what they should do to protect themselves.

Self-isolate if you have symptoms of coronavirus

If you have symptoms of coronavirus or symptoms like a cold or flu , you need to stay at home and completely avoid contact with other people to avoid passing on the virus. This is called self-isolation. Read advice about how to self-isolate.

Contact your GP by phone. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for coronavirus, they will arrange a test. You will need to self-isolate while you wait for the test and the results.

Read about testing for coronavirus.

Frequently asked questions about what you can and cannot do

For information about the planned gradual lifting of restrictions, you can read about the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

Wearing a face covering is recommended for situations where social distancing is difficult, for example, in public indoor areas or on busy public transport.

A face covering is not a medical mask, which should be reserved for healthcare professionals. It is material (usually cotton or linen) that you wear across your nose and mouth using elastic or string. You can buy a face covering or make a face covering.

It is not compulsory to wear a face covering and for some people they are not suitable, including for children under 13.

How do I use a face covering?

You should always wash your hands before putting on your face covering. Avoid touching it while you are wearing it (and if you accidently touch the front, wash your hands straight away).

Make sure that the material fully covers your nose and mouth. You should check that it is tied securely and fits snugly against the side of your face.

Keep your spare face coverings in a clean, waterproof bag (such as a ziplock bag). You should carry a similar bag for used face coverings. Label these bags clearly so that you do not mix them up.

If you are a smoker, do not lift up your face covering to smoke. Instead, remove it completely and place it in your ‘used’ ziplock bag.

When you are removing your face covering, do so using the strings at the back. Do not touch the front.

If your face covering is disposable, throw it in a bin immediately after use. If it is re-usable, you should wash it in hot water (60 degrees or hotter) with detergent.

Can I walk my dog?

Yes, provided you keep to within 5 kilometres of your house. You can meet up with other dog walkers, but only in groups of up to 4 people. You should keep at least 2 metres apart from people who are not members of your household.

Can I go to a holiday home?

No. Everyone should stay in their normal place of residence. You can travel to within 5 kilometres of your home to exercise. You can travel further to shop for essential items, care for someone, attend medical appointments or buy medicines. You can also travel to work if you cannot work from home and your workplace is open.

Can I visit an older relative?

You should not visit your older relative’s house. But you may meet with them outdoors, provided that you are both within 5 kilometres of your homes and meet in a group of not more than 4 people. You must keep at least 2 metres apart from them at all times.

Can I meet up with friends?

Yes, but it must be outdoors and in groups of no more than 4 people.

You can meet in a park or a friend’s garden for social purposes so long as the meeting place is within 5 kilometres of your home and no more than 4 people gather together. It is essential that you maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from anyone you don’t live with and avoid using your friend’s bathroom or kitchen facilities.

Can I play golf or tennis?

You can practice outdoor sport or fitness activities in groups of up to 4 people but you must maintain physical distancing, minimise contact and not share equipment.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis courts and golf courses have reopened with physical distancing measures in place and you are free to play golf and tennis so long as you do not need to travel beyond 5 kilometres of your home to access the facilities.

Sporting bodies such as Tennis Ireland and the Golf Union of Ireland have published protocols for clubs and players to follow.

Can I go back to work?

You should continue to work from home if you can.

You can travel to work if you are providing an essential services.

You may also return if you work mainly outdoors and your workplace can re-open safely. This may include construction workers, gardeners and some retail jobs where the shop floor is outdoors (for example garden centres). You can read more about Returning to work safely.

I am a separated parent. Can my children come and visit me?

Yes. The Law Society of Ireland have published guidance on access issues during the COVID-19 emergency. Current public health restrictions cannot be used as an excuse to ignore a court order.

Travel between parents’ homes is allowed to facilitate access. Parents are advised to have a copy of the court order with them when travelling for access.

From 18 May, applications and hearings for breach of access that have occurred during the COVID-19 emergency period will be treated as urgent matters by the courts.

You can read about COVID-19 and family law.

Can I do farm work?

Yes. Agriculture and fishing are deemed essential services and are exempt from the current directive to stay at home. This includes farmers, farm labourers, farm relief service workers and others involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production and related activities (including veterinary services), and workers involved in fishing.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is advising that farm workers should carry some form of identification at all times, such as a driver’s licence or an IFA membership card. If you are a farm owner with employees, you should give them with a letter that demonstrates their status as an essential worker. The IFA have developed a template letter which you can download.

However, it is important that everyone involved in farm work follows Government guidance on physical distancing as well as handwashing and respiratory hygiene to minimise their chance of contracting or spreading the virus.

What happens if I break the rules?

An Garda Síochána have been given additional powers including arrest without warrant, under the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) Regulations. The new powers aims to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19. These new, legally enforceable regulations are based closely on the advisory guidelines issued by the Government on 27 March.

Gardaí can arrest and detain anyone who refuses to comply with restrictions on non-essential work and travel without a lawful excuse. Any offence is punishable by a fine of up to €2,500, up to six months imprisonment or a combination of both.

However, the Garda Commissioner has said that the new powers will be held in reserve for circumstances in which a person does not comply voluntarily with the public health guidance. An offence will be committed only if a person refuses a direction from a Garda to comply with the regulations.

Page edited: 19 May 2020