Essential workers will be required to show identification and outline a brief work description when stopped at roadsides by gardaí during the current lockdown period.
According to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, gardaí will be stopping people to ensure their journeys are essential until April 12.
Speaking to reporters this morning, he said that emergency legislation which was passed last night by the government and which will become law in the coming days will enable gardaí to inform and enforce HSE safety measures.
“There’s obviously going to be a means by which we will be stopping individuals and making sure their journey is essential and we’ll have to apply obviously a discretion on that, if an essential worker has got their ID and some form of a description of what their work is, we can examine at the roadside then, that’s fine,” he explained.
“As the days go on, we want to be clear and fair with people with what’s expected. There are a large set of essential workers in this country.
“There still will be a lot of people moving to work.”
He said that gardaí will be asking people if they are on an essential trip if they decide to leave their homes.
“We now legitimately need to ask people, are they on an essential trip? And the essential trips have been outlined and that’s aorund shopping, hospital appointments, going to a chemist or else you’re an essential worker, or else you’re on some form of exercise. There’s no travelling from your home to some other point of exercise.
“We will be asking people, informing them and reminding them of what the regulations are.”
Commissioner Harris did not give further details on the sanctions that will impose people who break HSE guidelines.
“The sanctions will be set out in the regulations and they will follow through then in terms of our enforcement and reporting people then for persecution,” he said.
There are 2,500 gardaí on duty today across the country and he urged people to not panic.
“We’re concentrating on having a good strong presence and we want to make sure also that there’s no panic buying and no panic rush to the supermarket this morning.
“You can go to the shops, that’s an essential journey.
“People shouldn’t panic at this time,” he added.
Members of the public are urged to contact gardai if they see a “blatant” disregard of lockdown measures.
He also warned the public to watch out for scams online.
“People should be very concerned if they see offers for testing kits or some snake oil type cure, all of these things are nonsense and they’re just there to swindle you out of money,” Commissioner Harris said.
Gardai are still awaiting new coronavirus-related enforcement powers that would enable them to issue fines for breaches of social distancing regulations.
The laws were passed by the Oireachtas and signed into law by President Michael D Higgins over a week ago but work is still ongoing at the Attorney General’s office to translate them into a new set of regulations for the Garda.
Froom The Irish Independent.