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Taoiseach says people traveling beyond 5km limit with a reasonable excuse should have no fear about facing fines

There are about 25 reasons listed that allow people to travel beyond their 5km limit.

Image: Leah Farrell

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said people should not fear being fined if they are travelling beyond the 5km limit if they have a reasonable excuse.

This week, the government published the new Bill for fining Covid-19 breaches.

While the focus has been on the fines of €1,000 for owners or tenants living in houses where house parties are held, people who breach other aspects of the six-week lockdown, such as the 5km travel restriction, also face on the spot fines. 

Speaking to the media in Dublin Castle today, the Taoiseach said:

“We don’t want to be fining anybody, this is about a culture of compliance.”

He reiterated that the fines will only be used as a “last resort”, stating that they want “voluntary compliance”.

The majority will comply, he said, adding that in Level 3 there were “certain annoyances” that some were adhering to the guidelines, while others were not and perhaps there were also some “repeat offenders”. 

Gardaí will handle these new fines with a “common sense approach” around compliance.

“Nonetheless some need to know you can’t just on a serial basis keep on breaking the regulations,” he said.

Under the new regulations, travel beyond the 5km limit is allowed for such reasons as:

  • to shop for essential items
  • travel to and from work, where work involves providing an essential service 
  • to attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, and in particular for those who live alone, as part of an extended household but excluding social family visits
  • to attend a wedding or funeral
  • for farming purposes i.e. food production and/or care of animals
  • to visit a grave

People that live alone can also elect a social bubble or household they wish to visit, and are permitted to leave the 5km limit to do so.

Martin said the social bubble concept is important in terms of dealing with isolation. 

The Taoiseach said people should not fear that they will face fines if they travel beyond the 5km limit if they have one of the listed reasonable excuses or if they are visiting someone in their social bubble.

On whether further restrictions are on the cards, such as curfews, he said:

“I’m not really the curfew type.”

While he said other jurisdictions are adopting them, Ireland isn’t.

Today and tomorrow, the Dáil is debating extending the extraordinary powers given to the State during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said he did not want to bring in the enforcement regulations.

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“The powers were are seeking to extend are extraordinary. They don’t sit easily with me at all,” he said, adding that they didn’t sit easy with him when they were first brought in when he was an opposition TD.

“I don’t like this powers, I don’t want to have these powers,” he said, however, he added that the new regulations are needed now. 

He said the new regulations will only be used in a “proportionate and time bound manner”.

In terms of the legislation around fines, which are separate to the new regulations for Level 5, could be in place by the end of next week, or possibly early the week after at the beginning of November.

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