Consider penalties of €50 for not wearing masks and €200 for leaving county - Tánaiste

Tony Holohan met secretary general of Department of Taoiseach Martin Fraser on Tuesday

A system of graduated fines, which could include €50 penalties for not wearing face masks and €200 penalties for leaving your county, should be considered, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told his party last night.

However, a spokesman for the Tánaiste said that while all options are under review, there are no plans at present for a new system of fines.

“The law already provides for fines of €2,500 for breach of some laws like organising a gathering or not wearing a mask on public transport,” the spokesman said.

Hospital Report

“All options are under review but there are no plans at present for a new system of fines.”

Sources present at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting said Mr Varadkar told TDs and Senators that the previous system of €2,500 fines for those who break Covid-19 regulations was seen as draconian.

A better system of graduated fines should be considered, he said, including €50 fines for those who do not wear masks or €200 fines for those who breach travel restrictions.

It is understood that Mr Varadkar spoke out against allowing gardaí or public officials to enter people’s homes and said a warrant would be needed to do this.

Meanwhile, chief medical officer Tony Holohan met with one of the country’s top civil servants on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing fall-out between Government and the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

Sources said that Mr Holohan met with the secretary general of the Department of Taoiseach Martin Fraser on Tuesday afternoon.

Multiple Government spokespeople said on Tuesday that they did not know who Mr Holohan was meeting at Government buildings.

But sources confirmed early on Wednesday morning that the meeting took place as all parties seek to smooth over the recent controversy over calls to move the country immediately into Level 5 restrictions.

A Government spokesman said that while all options are under review, there are no plans at present for a new system of fines.

“The law already provides for fines of €2,500 for breach of some laws like organising a gathering or not wearing a mask on public transport.

“All options are under review but there are no plans at present for a new system of fines.”

Sources said the parliamentary party heard that gardaí prefer policing by consent rather than a penal approach, and that the Government will be guided by the Garda commissioner in this regard.