The Executive has backed down on making face masks in shops here mandatory - at least for the moment - as the issue descended into farce on Thursday night.
Instead, ministers are launching a campaign to encourage people to cover up in stores.
They will consider the level of compliance by August 20 and could then decide on steps around enforcement.
But there was confusion as the Health Minister was forced to backtrack on a statement that claimed a decision on compulsory coverings had already been taken.
In other developments on Thursday:
Guidance which had said only to travel overseas if it is essential has been dropped. Instead people are urged to "carefully consider your holiday and travel options, in light of the continuing Covid-19 threat".
The issue sparked a row after Alliance health spokeswoman Paula Bradshaw said her family would travel to Italy for a holiday this weekend. Hours after defending her plans, the South Belfast MLA cancelled the trip.
On Thursday night she refused to be drawn on whether she would reconsider, saying it was "a private matter".
After days of confusion around holidays, Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill are seeking a special summit including the British and Irish Governments to address discord over Covid-19 travel restrictions. Deputy First Minister Ms O'Neill admitted: "The position is confusing for people, it is a mess across the island."
The Executive on Thursday night faced fresh claims of mixed messaging - this time on face coverings.
At 6.20pm a statement was released from Mr Swann welcoming the "Executive's decision to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory in shops".
It said the rule would take effect on a phased basis from August 1, with a "lead-in period (that) will see legal enforcement of the measure beginning on August 20".
But 30 minutes later a second statement was issued, removing any reference to mandatory rules.
Mr Swann, in his new statement, said the "initial emphasis will be on education and encouragement".
There had been calls for the Executive to make face masks here compulsory, after similar moves by England, Scotland and the Republic.
But retail bodies said they feared making coverings mandatory would deter shoppers.
On Thursday the Executive agreed to give itself the power to make face coverings mandatory in some indoor settings including shops. But the law will not be enforced until August 20 - and only then if take-up of masks is low.
Simon Hamilton, chief executive of Belfast Chamber, and Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, had said they were opposed to face coverings becoming mandatory.
In a joint statement they welcomed the Executive's decision, adding: "We appreciate that ministers have listened to concerns expressed from both of our organisations and have decided to adopt an initial voluntary approach to strongly recommend the wearing of face coverings in shops.
"The decision will allow retailers time to prepare properly and also let the Executive develop guidance, better inform everyone of the benefits of wearing face coverings and educate us all on how to use coverings correctly."
Meanwhile, Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, welcomed news of an indicative opening date of August 10 for wet pubs.
He said: "These pubs are at the heart of our local communities and have experienced significant financial difficulties since closure in March."
It has also been confirmed a Covid-19 tracing app will be launched next week.
Department of Health chief digital information officer Dan West told the Stormont health committee it would be called Stop Covid NI. Use of the app will be voluntary and it will not collect identifiable information, he added. Should someone receive a positive test they will receive a unique code texted to their phone.
Once the user gives permissions it will release data from the phone to a server so close contacts can be traced, he added.
Northern Ireland will be the first part of the UK to have a contact tracing app. The Republic's app launched earlier this month.
Meanwhile, eight new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded here, the Department of Health confirmed.
No further deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours and the death toll from the virus remains at 556, based on the department's figures, which cover mainly hospital fatalities.