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Protect yourself and others from COVID-19

Last updated: 25 September 2020 at 5.45pm

There is no vaccine for COVID-19 (coronavirus).

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

COVID-19 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.

There are different levels of restrictions in place in some counties. Visit gov.ie for more information about levels of restrictions across Ireland.

Be responsible, be safe

Proper hand washing, respiratory hygiene and social distancing are more important than ever. Everyone should use their judgement and follow the advice below to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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
  • avoid public transport if possible - 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
  • avoid sharing vehicles with people you don't live with - wear a face covering if you do

You can:

  • meet a limited number of people indoors or outdoors for social gatherings, but keep at least 2 metres apart - read more information about having visitors and social gatherings
  • 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

But extra restrictions are in place if you live in Dublin. This is because of the spread of the virus in that county.

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 COVID-19

People at higher risk from COVID-19 should take extra care to protect themselves

Read advice for people over 70 or at very high risk of COVID-19.

Social distancing

Social distancing is important to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 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.

Read more about close contacts and casual contacts.

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 wcu@hsa.ie 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 COVID-19 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 COVID-19. Follow this advice as strictly as possible and encourage others to do this too.

Do

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.

Don't

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 COVID-19
  • 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 COVID-19

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.

Visitors and social gatherings

It’s always safer to meet fewer people, less often, for less time. If we do this, we have a better chance of stopping the spread of COVID-19. Apart from the people you live with, limit the number of people you meet and the time you spend with them.

Your risk of getting COVID-19 increases as you meet and engage with more people. This is why proper hand washing, respiratory hygiene and social distancing are more important than ever. In both indoor and outdoor settings, keep 2 metres apart from people you do not live with.

Visits to your home or garden

People from no more than 3 households including your own should meet at any one time with a maximum of 6 people.

But if you live in Dublin, extra restrictions are in place.

Gatherings and events away from the home

A maximum of 6 people can meet indoors and 15 people outdoors from up to 3 households including your own.

But if you live in Dublin, extra restrictions are in place.

For more information see the Government’s plan for living with COVID-19

Staying safe when you meet people

If you cannot keep 2 metres apart from people you don't live with, everyone should wear a face covering.

Wear a face covering when visiting people aged 70 or over, or other people at higher risk from coronavirus.

Clean your hands properly and regularly and ask visitors to your home to clean their hands when they arrive. After visitors leave, clean surfaces they have been in contact with. Use your usual household cleaning agents and detergents.

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.

When not to meet others

You should not meet someone else if you:

Check with people before you meet 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.

Related topics

How COVID-19 is spread

Shopping safely during the COVID-19 pandemic

Symptoms of COVID-19

Travel advice from the Government

Join the Fight Against Coronavirus.

Download the CovidTracker app