New fine as gardaí issue warning over holidays and house parties
An Garda Síochána is advising people this weekend to stay home to protect themselves and their loved ones. This comes as a new €100 fine for non-essential cross-border travel in this jurisdiction comes into operation on Monday morning, February 8.
To date, An Garda Síochána has issued approximately 4,600 fines for breaches of COVID-19 regulations.
Of these, 3,523 have related to non-essential travel.
An Garda Síochána advise people engaged in cross-border travel that from 7am on Monday, February 8, 2021, anyone not ordinarily resident in this State engaging in travel in this jurisdiction without a reasonable excuse may be liable to receive a fine of €100.
The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No.10) Regulations 2020, as amended, are currently in force. These regulations currently state, "any other person who is not ordinarily resident in the State shall not travel within a relevant geographical location without reasonable excuse.”
"An Garda Síochána has been consistent in our graduated policing response to supporting public health regulations and guidelines in line with our tradition of policing by consent. This has seen Gardaí engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce," a statement read.
"From Monday, if enforcement is required, Gardaí will issue a Fixed Payment Notice (FPN) for €100 to every adult present who is in breach of this regulation. For example, if the driver of a car has two adult passengers then each of the three adults in the car will receive a €100 fine.
"An Garda Síochána is also continuing to conduct checkpoints on access roads to airports and ports, as well as in departure areas, to check on whether people travelling to these locations are undertaking an essential journey. Travelling to an airport or port to take a holiday abroad is not an essential journey."
Since January 29, 2021, Gardaí have issued approximately 375 fines at Dublin Airport to people for leaving the country for non-essential travel.
Gardaí have also intervened with house parties right across the country with in excess of 300 fines issued for either organising or attending a house party.
The fine for organising a house party is €500 and attending a house party is €150.
In addition, Gardaí can issue a fine of €500 for organising other relevant events in breach of public health regulations.
Over the last few days, An Garda Síochána have also attended breaches of health regulations by licensed premises, restaurants, retail outlets, hair and beauty salons amongst other business premises. In all instances, files will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
An Garda Síochána continue to investigate potential breaches of Public Health Regulations associated with funerals (currently maximum 10 mourners) and weddings (currently maximum 6 attendees at a wedding reception).
People issued with a COVID-19 related fine have 28 days to pay the fine.
An Garda Síochána has a process in place with the Courts Service where anyone who fails to pay their fine within 28 days will receive a Court date shortly after. It is a matter for the Court, but failure to pay the FPN can result in conviction for a first offence in the District Court in a fine of €1,000 and/or imprisonment. Courts are also open to reporting by local and national media.
At the moment, six people will be before District Courts in March 2021 for non-payment of a COVID-19 fine. The people will appear before District Courts in Dublin (2), Cork, Meath, Waterford and Limerick.
An Garda Síochána has also to date issued 94 fines for the non-wearing of face masks in certain locations with the vast majority of these – 70 – being in retail premises. People are advised that under public health regulations they must wear a face mask in retail premises. Under the regulations, An Garda Síochána can take enforcement action in relation to such matters once it has been informed of the alleged breach by a relevant authority i.e. the manager of a retail premises.
Looking to this weekend, gardáí say nationwide checkpoints and high visibility patrols at public amenities across the country will continue in support of public health regulations.
"An Garda Síochána is again advising the public of the need to plan their activities over the weekend to take account that people are only allowed to exercise within 5km of their home. People are reminded that the 5km limit includes the distance travelled from their home to a location for exercise. In other words, you can’t travel more than 5km to a location to exercise.
"The public should also be aware that if a driver is found to be in breach of the non-essential travel regulations that not only can the driver be fined, but their adult passengers as well. This is also the case for adults in groups undertaking activities such as cycling or walking – every adult in such a group can be fined.
"As it has throughout the pandemic, An Garda Síochána’s focus has been on keeping people safe by using the 4Es – engage, explain, encourage, and, only as a last resort, enforce."
Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said, "Despite the significant challenges and sacrifices, the vast majority of people continue to comply with the public health advice. We thank them for that and ask them to keep it up.
"However, there also continues to be a minority who are putting themselves, their loved ones, their friends, and their neighbours at risk of getting COVID-19 by not adhering to the regulations.
"COVID-19 doesn’t switch-off so that people can attend parties, or go on holidays, or gather in large groups.
"The message is clear and has been for some time – people should only make essential journeys, reduce their contacts, practice social distancing, and wash their hands. Please stay safe and keep others safe by staying home.”