Gardaí stopped vehicles making their way to several airports across the country over the weekend, in a new operation that effectively extended domestic travel restrictions to international travellers.
The Irish Times reports that gardaí conducted Covid-19 checkpoints on the Dublin Airport campus and the roads approaching it.
Most vehicles travelling both to and from the airport were stopped and questioned, while some drivers were taken out of the lines of traffic for enforcement action.
Garda sources said the checkpoints were repeated at other airports and ports across Ireland. The force's headquarters has warned that holidays abroad are not deemed an "essential" reason for travel amid current Covid-19 restrictions.
It comes as enforcement action to reduce non-essential travel within the Republic has soared since the introduction of €100 on-the-spot fines two weeks ago.
Almost 1,000 fines were issued over 12 days from Monday, January 11th up to last Friday.
One major checkpoint was located at the bottom of the M1 close to the Port Tunnel. From 7am to 9pm, teams of gardaí spoke to three or four drivers at a time.
All drivers were spoken to except when large tailbacks built up and gardaí waved some vehicles through to ease the congestion.
Gardaí also carried out checks at major train stations, with passengers at Heuston Station in Dublin stopped before boarding their train and asked the purpose of their journey.
Gardaí have now warned that anyone taking a flight or ferry for a non-essential reason can be fined in the same way people travelling further than 5km from home have been sanctioned under the “on-the-spot fines”.
Holidays abroad are not deemed essential
“Gardaí at Dublin Airport are enforcing the 5km from home travel limit. Essential travel restrictions apply to flights from Dublin Airport. Holidays abroad are not deemed essential,” Garda Headquarters in Dublin said of the new operation.
“Various checks on public health regulations at ports and airports [on the spot fines] can be issued for non-essential travel, including non-essential international travel.”
It comes as all international arrivals into the State are now required to produce proof of a negative PCR test for Covid-19 taken within the 72 hours prior to their arrival. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to €2,500.