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Protect yourself and others from coronavirus

Last updated: 10 August 2020 at 3.45pm

There is no vaccine for coronavirus.

To protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19), think about how the virus is spread.

Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person's nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. This can be direct or indirect (on hands, objects, surfaces).

Keep this in mind. It will help you remember all the things you need to do to protect yourself and others from the virus.

Be responsible, be safe

As public health restrictions are lifted, proper hand washing, respiratory hygiene and social distancing are even more important.

We are still at risk of a large surge of infection. Everyone should use their judgement and follow the advice below to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Try and limit the number of people you meet with outside of your home and the time you spend with them.

You should:

  • wear a face covering on public transport, in shops and other indoor settings - this is the law, you may be fined or refused entry if you don't wear one
  • work from home if possible - if you cannot work from home, keep 2 metres apart from other people
  • avoid crowded places as much as possible - leave a location if social distancing becomes difficult.
  • only use public transport for essential journeys - walk or cycle instead, if you can
  • avoid places where you can't keep 2 metres apart from other people, where possible
  • wear a face covering when visiting people aged 70 or over, or other vulnerable people - be sure to practice social distancing for their safety
Extra restrictions are in place for Kildare, Laois and Offaly.
Follow this advice if you live in one of those counties.

You can:

  • meet people indoors or outdoors for social gatherings, but keep at least 2 metres apart - read more information about having visitors.
  • attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products
  • exercise outdoors or indoors in gyms and sports clubs while following public health advice
  • visit outdoor spaces, playgrounds and tourism sites, where you can keep at least 2 metres apart from other people

Do not ignore or delay seeking medical treatment for abnormal signs or symptoms that you may be experiencing. Get medical help if you need it.

People at higher risk from coronavirus

People at higher risk from coronavirus should take extra care to protect themselves

Read advice for people over 70 or at very high risk of coronavirus.

Social distancing

Social distancing is important to help slow the spread of coronavirus. It does this by minimising contact between potentially infected individuals and healthy individuals.

You should:

  • keep a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people
  • avoid communal sleeping areas
  • avoid any crowded places
  • not shake hands or make close contact with other people, if possible

There is very little risk if you are just passing someone. But try to keep a distance of 2 metres as much as possible.

If you are in a public place where it is difficult to keep 2 metres away from others, you should wear a face covering.

Social distancing at work

Follow social distancing advice everywhere outside the home. This includes your workplace.

If you are going back to your workplace, read information about returning to work safely.

Contact the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) by emailing or phoning 1890 289 389 if you are:

  • worried about how your workplace is responding to social distancing or other measures
  • an employer and want advice on coronavirus prevention measures in the workplace

There is separate advice about:

Good hygiene and hand washing

Good hygiene and washing your hands properly and often will help to stop the spread of coronavirus. Follow this advice as strictly as possible and encourage others to do this too.


Wash your hands properly and often.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.

Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Do not share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups.

When you should wash your hands

You should wash your hands:

  • after coughing or sneezing
  • before and after eating
  • before and after preparing food
  • if you were in contact with someone who has a fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
  • before and after being on public transport, if you must use it
  • before and after being in a crowd (especially an indoor crowd)
  • when you arrive and leave buildings including your home or anyone else's home
  • if you have handled animals or animal waste
  • before having a cigarette or vaping
  • even if your hands are not visibly dirty
  • after toilet use

Keep your hands in good condition. Moisturise them often. Any basic product that is not perfumed or coloured is OK.

Read advice on how to wash your hands properly.

Use the COVID Tracker app

COVID Tracker is a free and easy-to-use mobile phone app that can:

  • alert you if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
  • advise you on what to do to protect yourself and others
  • alert other app users that you were in close contact with, if you test positive for coronavirus

The app is part of our contact tracing operation. Contact tracing is vital to slowing the spread of the virus. The more people that download and use the app, the more it will help contact tracing.

Using the app, along with following the public health advice on this page, can help us all stay safe when we meet up, socialise, work or travel.

You can download the app from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store.

Read about why you should use the COVID Tracker app.


Apart from the people you live with, try and limit the number of people you meet and the time you spend with them.

Having any number of visitors to your home or visiting others increases your risk of coronavirus. This is why proper hand washing, respiratory hygiene and social distancing are more important than ever.

If you have visitors, limit them to a maximum of 10 people at one time from no more than 4 other households. But this is only as long as you can all keep 2 metres apart.

When not to visit

You should not visit someone else if you:

Check with people before you visit them to make sure they are symptom-free and feeling well.

Read advice around visiting people aged 70 or over, or other medically vulnerable people.

Visiting precautions you should take

If you cannot keep 2 metres apart from other visitors in the house, everyone should wear a face covering. If visitors can keep 2 metres apart, it's okay not to wear a face covering.

Wear a face covering when visiting people aged 70 or over, or other medically vulnerable people.

Clean your hands properly and regularly and invite your visitors to clean their hands when they arrive.

Do not wear disposable gloves instead of washing your hands. The virus gets on them in the same way it gets on your hands. Also, your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.

After your visitors leave, clean surfaces they have been in contact with. Use your usual household cleaning agents and detergents.

Compassionate visits

You may be able to visit a very sick relative if they are in a:

  • hospital
  • nursing home
  • hospice
  • residential care setting

Read more about visiting nursing homes and residential care facilities.

Read more about hospital service disruptions and visiting restrictions.

Related topics

How coronavirus is spread

Shopping safely during the coronavirus pandemic

Symptoms of coronavirus

Travel advice from the Government

Join the Fight Against Coronavirus.

Download the CovidTracker app