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Fines of up to €500 introduced for breaches of Covid-19 regulations

People can be fined €100 for travel rule breaches and €80 for not wearing face mask

Peopele found to be breaching travel regulations can be fined €100. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A series of new fines for breaches of Covid-19 guidelines have been introduced, including a new fixed penalty of €500 for organising an event in contravention of Government regulations.

Under the new fixed penalty notices, gardaí can fine someone €500 for organising an event inside or outside a private dwelling that is in breach of the public health regulations.

Anyone who attends an event in a private dwelling that is in breach of the regulations can be fined €150, while those breaching travel regulations can be fined €100.

People who fail to wear a face covering on public transport can be fined €80.

Individuals who receive a fixed penalty notice have 28 days to pay to avoid prosecution.

The fines came into effect on Sunday under the statutory instrument signing by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly over the weekend bringing the regulations into law.

The Garda Siochána will roll out the introduction of these enforcement measures as the relevant systems will be adjusted over the coming week to accommodate the additional offences.

The Department of Health and the Department of Justice said in a joint statement that the only enforcement power previously available was a penalty provision under the 1947 Health Act amounting to a maximum penalty of €2,500 and/or six months in prison on conviction.

The Government decided that a “more flexible and proportionate system of sanctions was required for offenses and breaches of the regulations,” the departments said.

They said the vast majority of people were following health guidance but a small cohort were ignoring the advice and putting themselves and others at risk, making the new fines necessary.

Although the Level 5 restrictions - the most severe on the Government’s scale of responses - are due to be lifted next week, the fines are being introduced to strengthen the State’s enforcement of public health restrictions and will remain in place for the duration of the pandemic.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin first raised the possibility of introducing a series of new fines to enforce Covid-19 guidelines at the start of last month.

He said at the the time that the Government’s priority was to “work with people to build compliance without having to rely on those measures.”