Covid-19: People caught trying to holiday abroad will face €500 fines from Monday
Regulations signed to implement travel measures decided by Cabinet on Tuesday
Departures area at Dublin Airport during Covid-19 lockdown. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
People caught trying to leave the State to go on holiday will face €500 fines from Monday under regulations signed last night.
Work continues on drawing up the legal basis for a raft of other Covid-19 measures announced by the Government earlier this week, such as mandatory quarantining for certain air passengers.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly last night signed the first of the regulations to implement measures relating to travel decided on by Government on Tuesday.
An increased fine of €500 will apply to people caught travelling to a port or airport to leave the State without a reasonable excuse from Monday, February 1st.
The penalty is increased from the €100 fine that can be imposed for breaches of the 5km travel limit on non-essential domestic travel.
A spokesman for Mr Donnelly confirmed the move on the €500 fine targeting holiday-makers, and said: “Work on other regulations around mandatory quarantine and the operation of same is continuing and should be completed in the coming days.”
Officials have spent the last number of days grappling with complex legal issues presented by the new Covid-19 measures.
There will be mandatory quarantining at a designated facility for passengers who cannot provide a negative pre-departure Covid-19 test as well as all those travelling from Brazil and South Africa due to new variants of the virus there. Other passengers are to be required by law to quarantine at home.
The Government has said that applying mandatory quarantine measures to EU or UK citizens requires changes to primary legislation.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said on Thursday that the Government is exploring ways to impose fines on people travelling more than 5km across the Border from Northern Ireland without a valid reason, but said it was “not straightforward”. There are plans for Garda checkpoints 5km from the Border to crack down on non-essential travel between the two jurisdictions.
A Government spokesman said some measures agreed by Government on Tuesday, such as increased Garda checks and enforcement and the suspension of visa-free travel from certain countries, had been implemented.
He said: “Regulations relating to several matters have been finalised and will come into force on Monday, February 1st, including extension of the requirement for a pre-departure test until March 5th.”
The spokesman said legislative measures were “being finalised urgently as are the operational arrangements necessary to implement the mandatory quarantine regime, which will be implemented as quickly as possible”.