Covid-19: Fines of €500 for breaching guidelines; €1,500 for throwing house parties

Covid-19: Fines of €500 for breaching guidelines; €1,500 for throwing house parties

On the spot fines of up to €500 will be introduced for those who breach general Covid-19 guidelines.

The cabinet has agreed on a new set of graduated fines for those flouting lockdown rules, with the more serious offence of throwing house parties punishable with a €1,000 fine for a first offence, €1,500 for a second and €2,500 for a third. 

Each offence also carries a potential one, three or six-month prison sentence.

The fines could see people who breach the 5km travel restriction hit with a fine of €60 for a first offence.

Gardaí will be given the new powers to fine people who hold house parties under new measures, in which Gardaí can attend a house and break up a party but they will not be able to enter the property. 

If the owner does not break up the party after a Garda request they will be fined under a fixed charge notice.

Gardaí will also be able to move on people believed to be loitering or on their way to a party. 

If the person refuses they will be fined.

The CMO Dr Tony Holohan supported the fines, saying that they would deliver the "marginal improvements" needed to fight the virus.

"They won’t be necessary to encourage the right behaviour on behalf of every individual but they will play a role and I think they’ll have a marginal effect,” he said.

“And every marginal will be helpful in terms of the challenge we have to overcome.

“Every little measure that we can have, including the use of graduated fines in certain settings, can get us that extra little bit of improvement that we need."

The government was also forced into a quick U-turn on Tuesday morning increasing the number of mourners at funerals to 25.

It was announced early in the day that the numbers of people allowed at funerals would be increased to 25, up from 10, after there was widespread shock that 25 guests were allowed at weddings but not funerals.

The U-turn came just hours after the Taoiseach had defended the low number stating that: "In one location you could have many funerals," however one cabinet source said there was "little argument" about having the number increased when it became apparent it had become an issue for the public.

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien presented a new memo to the cabinet that would enable a country-wide moratorium on evictions for as long as the new restrictions are in place. 

The Bill will come before the Dáil on Wednesday and the legislation should be passed this week.

Mr O'Brien said the new legislation will build on measures introduced in August to protect tenants who had suffered reduced income or who lost their jobs and he would be "further engaging with the banks" on the freezing of mortgage payments.

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