Level 5 Garda Checkpoints such as in Newbridge today can issue €100 fines for non-essential travel

Senan Hogan

Reporter:

Senan Hogan

Level 5 Garda Checkpoints such as in Newbridge today can issued €100 fines for non-essential travel

A checkpoint near the Ballymany Roundabout outside Newbridge today

Gardaí can now fine people €100 for engaging in non-essential travel.

These are the powers available to gardaí at checkpoints since Monday.

A Checkpoint was operated at Ballymany Roundabout on the outskirts of Newbridge today.

Under the offence guidelines, those in breach of mask regulations can also be fined €80.

Under Level 5, people are asked to stay at home, except for travel for work, education or other essential purposes, or to take exercise within 5km of home.

In a statement issued this afternoon, An Garda Síochána said it will continue to operate a significant number of static and mobile checkpoints, as well as conduct high visibility patrolling, this weekend focused on non-essential travel.

New figures show that Gardaí issued 29 Fixed Payment Notices (FPNs) to people across Ireland so far this week for breaches of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Gardaí have also been operating high visibility patrols of key locations such as public amenities, scenic areas and parks.

Under the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No.10) Regulations 2020, as amended are currently in force. 

Regulation 4 states, inter alia, ‘an applicable person shall not leave his or her place of residence without reasonable excuse’.  This is a Penal Regulation and is enforceable with a fine.

Gardaí said: "While it is as important as ever for members of the public to avail of exercise and get fresh air, in accordance with Public Health Regulations, exercise can only be availed of ‘within a 5 kilometre radius of the person’s place of residence’.

"If public amenities are crowded, public health advice is to avoid crowded areas.

"As it did last week, An Garda Síochána is advising the public that they are at risk of their car being towed away and impounded if they park illegally at such amenities because it can hinder access by emergency services.

"For example, last weekend Wicklow Gardaí issued in excess of 50 Fixed Charge Notices (FCNs) for illegal parking and dangerous parking near amenities in the area. This was in addition to towing a number of vehicles, which obstructed emergency vehicle access.  Wicklow Gardaí had put in place additional checkpoints and engaged with a significant number of persons who following engagement subsequently complied with current Covid-19 Public Health regulations."

Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said,
 
"Our health service is under pressure. Deaths from COVID-19 are rising. ICU admissions are increasing. The best way for people to protect and honour front-line workers is to stay at home. The best way for people to protect their loved ones, their neighbours, and their communities is to stay at home."

"Please only make essential journeys. Exercise within 5km of your home. Minimise the amount of people you meet. Wear a face mask. Maintain social distancing. Wash your hands. If you visit somewhere to exercise and it is crowded then leave. This will all help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect lives,” added Deputy Twomey.  
 
Fixed Payment Notices (FPN) for Travel Breaches

Since Monday last, members of An Garda Síochána can prosecute breaches of Travel Restrictions under Covid-19 Regulations by means of a €100 Fixed Payment Notice.

From Monday 11th to Wednesday 13th January 2021, 29 FPNs were issued.

A further 8 FPNs have issued in respect of previous alleged breaches from Friday 1st January to Monday 10th January 2021.

Some examples of breaches leading to FPNs in the last few days include:

• Checkpoint at Sean Moore Road, Ringsend - Driver of vehicle stated that he and two passengers travelled from Co. Meath to collect ‘burgers’ from a takeaway restaurant in Dublin 4 having travelled approximately 80km from home. All three occupants of car received a FPN.
• Checkpoint in Middleton - Female driver was requested to return home. Subsequently the driver was observed at a beach amenity outside the 5km limit. Driver acknowledged she was breaching Covid regulations and offered no further reasonable excuse.
• Two cyclists stopped near Carrick, Galway - not from same household, no social distancing, or face coverings, 19km from home and in another county. Claimed reasonable excuse of physical exercise, but were outside 5km applicable limit.
• North County Dublin – four persons observed leaving rear of gym. Further examination included speaking with two gym instructors who claimed to be working from the gym as no Internet at home to conduct online sessions - 6 FPNs issuing.
• Waterford city - male stopped walking on the street, said he had been out for food and then to see friends on the other side of the city - no reasonable excuse.
• Checkpoint outside Cork City - male and female not from same household stopped while driving and claimed to be travelling to visit elderly relative. On completion of checkpoint a few minutes later Gardaí patrolled local amenity carpark and found the same driver. He had not travelled to visit elderly relative, had no reasonable excuse and was outside 5km limit for physical exercise. Both car occupants issued FPNs.

Gardaí said: "An Garda Síochána has been consistent in our graduated policing response to supporting Public Health Regulations and guidelines in line with our tradition of policing by consent. This has seen Gardaí engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.
 
"Where breaches of the travel regulations are detected and a person does not comply with a direction of An Garda Síochána, a prosecution can be commenced by means of a €100 Fixed Payment Notice.  Where more appropriate, An Garda Síochána may seek a direction from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions."