People can travel more than 5km from home to buy food in shops or collect takeaway orders but it must be within reason and within the “vicinity” of a person’s home, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said.
She made her remarks after the Garda revealed three people who claimed they had driven around 80km in a car from their home in Co Meath to collect burgers at a fast food takeaway in Dublin 4 were fined this week.
Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, said when the occupants of the car were stopped in recent days by gardaí in Ringsend in Dublin's south inner city and the nature of their journey emerged they were sanctioned with the new €100 on the spot fines.
Ms McEntee said people were allowed to travel more than 5km from home for food, including collecting orders from takeaways, but that did not mean they could travel anywhere.
"I live in the country and there's a lot of people who don't even have a shop within 5km of where they live," she told the Today with Claire Byrne programme on RTÉ Radio 1 when confirming people could travel more than 5km to shop for essentials or pick up takeaway orders.
“So the rules are very clear - you’re to stay within the 5km (radius of home) for exercise. But if you need to get food, whether it’s dropping into the shops to get smaller items, whether it’s doing a bigger shop or even if it’s getting a takeaway, people are allowed to do that.
“But, I mean, where it’s absolutely not necessary… there are plenty of places in Co Meath where people can buy burgers. People travelled 80km to the other side of a different county; it’s not necessary, it’s not essential travel.
“We’ve seen the traffic numbers reduce significantly, which is very positive; but if everybody were to take that approach (of driving long distances for food) the amount of people on our roads would be back to where we were before Christmas.”
She added that sanctioning people driving to collect takeaways “might seem harsh” but people are asked to travel for food “within their vicinity, to travel to maybe the closest shop or the nearest takeaway”.
“As rural as you might be, 80km is certainly not the closest (takeaway),” she said.
A total of 29 people were fined under the new on the spot fines system between Monday and Wednesday of this week, the first three days the new fixed payment notices were in place.
As well as the three people stopped in Ringsend having driven from Co Meath to collect two cyclists out training in Co Galway, and 19km from home, were also fined. In north Co Dublin six people, including two instructors, were spotted at a gym, which are supposed to be closed at present, and all six were fined.
There were also other examples of people stopped at Garda checkpoints more than 5km from home, without having an “essential reason” for their journey. While they promised to return home they were spotted again later by gardaí and fined €100.