The Government has decided An Garda Siochana need new powers to enforce public health restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the virus and here’s what they will involve:
You can now be issued with an automatic €1,000 fine or end up in prison for a month if you are found to be hosting or organising a gathering banned under the Government’s Covid-19 regulations
For a second offence, a person can be issued with a €1,500 fine or three months in prison. For a third offence, a €2,500 fine can be imposed along with a six month sentence.
The Health (Amendment) Bill 2020 also allows the courts to impose the highest level of fines and imprisonment on a first offence if there are "aggravating circumstances".
Under the new law, an event organiser is seen as a person who “arranges, organises or manages the event, or otherwise causes or permits the event to take place”. Anyone who receives any financial gain from an illegal gathering can also be fined or imprisoned. A person can be fined if they are involved in organising, publicising, arranging or managing an event which is a breach of public health rules.
Attending a house party
The new laws also allow for €1,000 fines to be issued to a person entering or attempting to enter a house party.
The bill says gardai have the power to direct people to disperse if they are “about to enter a dwelling for that purpose” or are “attempting to enter a dwelling” where an illegal gathering is taking place.
Gardai may “direct the person to leave immediately that place and the vicinity thereof in a peaceable and orderly manner”.
Gardai can also ask anyone attending an illegal event, other than those who live in house to “leave immediately the dwelling and the vicinity of the dwelling in a peaceable and orderly manner”.
Under the new law it is an offence not to comply with a Garda’s direction and it can be punishable by €1,000 or a month in prison.
Other offences – masks and travel restrictions.
The new legislation does not specifically set out fines for other breaches of the Government’s Covid regulations.
However, it does allow for new €500 fixed charges notices which can be issued for breaches of health regulations.
This is expected to include traveling further than 5km from a home or refusing to wear a face mask on public transport, shops or in public amenities such as museums.
When will this come into law?
The new Level 5 rules come into force from Thursday and the Dáil is expected to rush through the new legislation over the coming days but it may not become law until the weekend or next week.
Published in Independent 21st October 2020
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