Gardaí to be given power to enforce social distancing regulations
Gardaí can now arrest people for breaking social distancing rules.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has confirmed that he will sign regulations tonight (7 April) empowering the Gardaí to enforce various restrictions relating to social distancing.
The announcement followed a meeting between Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and senior cabinet ministers.
Gardaí will now be able to arrest and detain those found to be in breach of the regulations - such as travelling for non-essential purposes, or exercising outside of a 2 kilometre radius from one's home. Gardaí did not formally have this power until this evening, and had instead been requesting that the public comply with the directives.
It is believed that Gardaí were eager to have these powers signed into law ahead of an Easter weekend that could see people travelling across the country. According to Minister Harris, the new regulations will give Gardaí at checkpoints the power to turn vehicles around.
Convictions on these charges can result in a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a fine of €2,500.
Other people targeted by the laws are those whom the HSE has instructed to self-isolate but refuse to do so.
Harris' sign-off on these regulations comes on the day when Ireland has experienced its highest single-day death toll yet at 36. There are currently 5,709 confirmed cases of the virus confirmed in the Republic of Ireland.