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Penalties Fines for people who breach Covid-19 restrictions ‘will help curb virus’

Legislation on financial penalties is expected to be passed in the coming days.

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Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health during a briefing at the Department of Health in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health during a briefing at the Department of Health in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health during a briefing at the Department of Health in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Penalties for people who breach Covid-19 restrictions will be “helpful” and “play a role” in curbing the spread of the virus, the chief medical officer said.

Legislation to allow for the issuing of fines for people who do not adhere to the Government’s restrictions is expected to be passed by the Oireachtas in the coming days.

The Government announced on Monday that level five restrictions will come into effect across the country at midnight on Wednesday for six weeks in a bid to reduce the infection rate.

Dr Tony Holohan said the vast majority of people are complying with measures but the introduction of fines would be helpful to tackle those who are not.

“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.”

The chief medical officer added: “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.

“And we know that many people are complying but some are not and this gives us means and measures that we can take to address that.”

He made the comments at a Department of Health briefing in Dublin on Tuesday as a further 13 deaths due to Covid-19 were confirmed.

An additional 1,269 cases of the virus were also reported.

The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 nationally now stands at 279.3.

There are 312 people in hospital including 34 people in ICU.

A total of 111,688 tests were carried out over the last seven days.

Of these, 7.3% were positive.

Dr Holohan said the buy-in of the public was hugely important if level five restrictions were going to work.

“The most important defence against the spread of this infection is the behaviour, buy-in, the willingness of the public,” he said.

Without it, the chief medical officer said, there was no way of effectively protecting against the spread of the infection.

“The burden of this infection and the impact it is having is increasing.

“It’s now over to us as individuals in society to do everything we individually can,” Dr Holohan added.

He appealed to anyone who knows they have the infection or anyone who is waiting for a test to self-isolate.

He also said it was important that anyone who lives with someone who is a confirmed case or has symptoms also restricts their movements.

“If you are one of those people it’s really important that you isolate,” he said.

“Not just stay in your house but stay in your room.

“You separate yourself from those that you live with.”

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