Gardai now have the power to prosecute breaches of travel restrictions under Covid-19 Regulations by means of a fine.
The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No.10) Regulations 2020 in accordance with the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act, 2020 are currently in force.
Regulation 4 states ‘an applicable person shall not leave his or her place of residence without reasonable excuse’. This is a Penal Regulation and is enforceable.
Gardai say they have been consistent in their graduated policing response to supporting Public Health Regulations and guidelines in line with their tradition of policing by consent.
This has seen Garda members engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.
From Monday, where breaches of the travel regulations are detected and a person does not comply with a direction of Gardai, a prosecution now can be commenced by means of a €100 Fixed Charge Notice.
Where more appropriate, An Garda Síochána may seek a direction from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, Policing and Security said:
“An Garda Síochána continues to see significant compliance by the public with Public Health Regulations, however we also continue to see some activity which is in contravention of these regulations introduced to stop the current spread of Covid-19 and protect our communities.
“I appeal to every person without a reasonable excuse for travel – Stay at Home, this is your duty as a citizen and will save lives and support our front line services, nurses, doctors, hospital staff and my Garda colleagues at this time.”
Gardai have also provided examples of some court outcomes of previous Garda enforcement activity.
In Cavan, Kildare and Tipperary, a person was found in breach of travel restrictions without reasonable excuse. These separate individuals were fined €150, €250 and €400 respectively.
In Sligo, two men received a fine of €300 as they were found to be in breach of travel restrictions without reasonable excuse.
While in Dublin, a man was in breach of Covid Regulations and directed to return home but was observed still in breach of regulations at the same location two hours later. He received a €350 fine.
A man from Dublin received a 30 day prison sentence and a man from Sligo was handed a two month jail term – both for being in breach of travel restrictions without reasonable excuse.