Gardaí were given new powers to curtail the movement of people last night due to “slippage” in terms of compliance with a requirement that people remain within 2km of their home.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has sent out regulations that require people to remain at their “place of residence”. The commissioner said this means people who may have travelled to their holiday home are now required to remain within 2km of that property.
Earlier on Wednesday it was suggested that gardaí would be able to knock on holiday-home doors over Easter weekend and tell people to go home.
The commissioner said this would not be the case and the priority is to restrict movement until Monday night, that people should remain where they are.
A decision is expected on Friday on an extension of restrictions concerning movement beyond Easter Sunday. The additional Garda powers were signed into law last night due to concern that complacency was creeping in and could accelerate during a bank holiday weekend with fine weather forecast.
The new law allows that a person who refuses to comply with an instruction of a garda who is seeking to impose physical distancing rules is guilty of an offence. The transgression that can lead to arrest and a fine of €2,500 or a prison sentence of up to six months.
What is the timeline for these powers?
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said there would be no automatic rollover of the new Garda powers. If the restrictions on people leaving their homes is extended as expected into next week, there would be “careful consideration” around whether to also extend the new powers.
Mr Flanagan said it is important gardaí have clarity around enforcement of rules on people remaining at home. And he added that there was also a fear that some people were becoming complacent.
The Minister described the regulations as a last resort and said it was hoped the high level of public compliance with the request that people stay within 2km of their home would be maintained.
From The Irish Times