Last weekend, unsettling images circulated online of groups and crowds of people drinking in Dublin and Cork city centres.
It sparked public outrage and Government plans for action, followed by a U-turn and references to existing bylaws and Garda powers.
A. Garda HQ has announced they would be upping patrols and ensuring compliance with laws in likely outdoor drinking spots.
That means they plan to have more gardaí in the usual public areas, directing people who are out boozing to empty their drinks and move on.
“This will see increased garda activity on foot, mountain bikes, and vehicle patrols in identified public spaces," said the Garda statement.
A. The statement said the Garda strategy of “engage, explain, encourage, and, as a last resort, enforce” is relevant to both Covid-specific regulations and other legislation and bylaws.
“An Garda Síochána has lawful authority under various legislation to direct a person to desist from a particular course of action, without resort to initiating a prosecution,” it said.
The bylaws refer to secondary legislation local authorities have to prohibit public drinking, including the power to confiscate the alcohol.
Most authorities have these laws which, during times of festivals such as the Cork Jazz Festival, they can lift for a specified period.
Gardaí enforce these laws, which vary between local authorities, including the amount people can be fined.
Garda sources said that while people can be fined, that would not apply in the bulk of cases, as people generally comply with directions to empty their drink and move on.
A. Since October 30, there have been an additional 45 breaches: seven alleged breaches of the Health Act 1947, eight alleged breaches by licensed premises, 29 alleged breaches by retail premises, and one alleged breach for face-covering regulations.
Gardaí have commenced 493 Covid-related prosecutions since April.