Explainer: What are the Garda powers to enforce Covid-19 restrictions?

Explainer: What are the Garda powers to enforce Covid-19 restrictions?

While gardaí are planning 132 large-scale checkpoints a day on major routes, supplemented by mobile checkpoints around the country, currently the travel restrictions are not enforced by law.

Gardaí have recommenced Operation Fanacht in order to support the Government's decision to move to Level 3 restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking yesterday, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris reiterated that gardaí will adopt "a graduated policing approach based on its tradition of consent", with no further powers of enforcement being given to gardaí.

However, Commissioner Harris said that he will request additional powers for An Garda Síochána if he feels they subsequently become necessary.

Some of the restrictions in the Living with Covid plan do not carry fines or prison sentences for breaches, relying instead on the public's willingness to adhere to the measures.

Household gatherings

Up to six people from one other household is permitted, however adherence to this is based on public compliance.

Face coverings

Remain enforceable by law. Those not wearing a face covering without reason of physical/mental illness, or those under the age of 13, may be subject to a fine of up to €2,500 and/or up to six months in prison.

 Shoppers wearing face masks on Careys Lane, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Shoppers wearing face masks on Careys Lane, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Organised outdoor/indoor events

Gardaí have powers to close the event if public health measures are not being followed and may also impose a penal punishment. An organised event is classed as one with an identified organiser, manager or owner.

Organised indoor gathering are not permitted under Level 3 restrictions, while organised outdoor gatherings may go ahead with a maximum of 15 people in attendance. Gardaí can issue a fine of up to €2,500 and up to six months in jail for the organiser if they fail to comply with the guidelines.

Bars, cafes and restaurants

As part of the ongoing Operation Navigation, gardaí will continue to carry out checks on business premises to ensure they are following public health advice.

Businesses serving food and alcohol are not allowed to offer indoor dining or drinking, but may serve takeaway food and drink, or outdoor dining for up to 15 people.

A breach may result in an initial closure for the remainder of the day, but extensions of between three and 30 days can be applied if deemed necessary.

Domestic travel

 While gardaí are planning 132 large-scale checkpoints a day on major routes, supplemented by mobile checkpoints around the country, currently the travel restrictions are not enforced by law.

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