Explainer: What are the Garda powers to enforce Covid-19 restrictions?

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Muireann Duffy
Gardaí have launched a high visibility nationwide policing plan for this weekend, in support of public health guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

The plan came into effect early Friday morning and will operate until midnight on Sunday, with extra Garda checkpoints in place across the country alongside more patrols around public parks and landmarks.

Here we outline which measures gardaí may legally enforce, as some of the restrictions in the Government’s Living with Covid-19 plan do not carry fines or prison sentences for breaches and rely instead on the public's willingness to adhere to the measures.

Household gatherings: Household visits have now been banned, previously no more than six people from one other household were permitted, however adherence to this is based on public compliance.

Face coverings: Remain enforceable by law. Those not wearing a face covering without reason of physical or mental illness, or those under the age of 13, may be subject to a fine of up to €2,500 and/or up to six months in prison.

Organised outdoor/indoor events: Gardaí have powers to close the event if public health measures are not being followed and may also impose a penal punishment.


An organised event is classed as one with an identified organiser, manager or owner. Organised indoor gathering are not permitted under Level 3 restrictions, while organised outdoor gatherings may take place with a maximum of 15 people in attendance.

Gardaí can issue a fine of up to €2,500 and up to six months in jail for the organiser if they fail to comply with the guidelines.

Bars, cafes and restaurants: As part of the ongoing Operation Navigation, gardaí will continue to carry out checks on business premises to ensure they are following public health advice.

Businesses serving food and alcohol are not allowed to offer indoor dining or drinking, but may serve takeaway food and drink, or outdoor dining for up to 15 people.

A breach may result in an initial closure for the remainder of the day, but extensions of between three and 30 days can be applied if deemed necessary.

Domestic travel: While gardaí are planning 132 large-scale checkpoints a day on major routes under Level 3 restrictions supplemented by mobile checkpoints around the country, currently the travel restrictions are not enforced by law.

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