The primary purpose of the Criminal Justice (Enforcement Powers) (Covid-19) Act 2020. Act is, having regard to the threat to human life and public health posed by Covid-19, to provide additional enforcement powers to An Garda Síochána to address breaches of the relevant Covid-19 regulations by any business or service selling or supplying intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises.
The Act applied to any licensed premises or club where intoxicating liquor is sold or supplied for consumption on the premises.
An Garda Síochána have power to enter a relevant premises in relation to any powers under this Act or under the relevant provisions of the Health Act 1947. Preventing or obstructing a Garda from entry to the premises is a criminal offence.
Where a person in charge of a premises supplying or serving alcohol does not comply with a direction from a Garda to comply with a penal provision of a Covid-19 regulation made under the Health Act 1947, an immediate closure order can be issued by a Garda of superintendent rank or higher closing that premises for the remainder of the day.
Where there is a continuous or repeated failure or refusal to comply with a direction from a Garda in relation to a particular premises, a Garda of superintendent rank or higher can make an ex-parte application to the District Court for an emergency closure order for up to three days. The District Court has the power to adjourn the hearing and notify the licensee of the application. On application to it, the District Court can also discharge an Order where the licensee proves that any direction is being complied with or gives an undertaking that the relevant Covid-19 regulations made under the Health Act 1947 will be complied with.
Aa Garda of superintendent rank or higher may issue a compliance notice to a licensee of a premises where an immediate closure order has been made, or where the specified person has failed or refused to comply with a direction from a Garda. The compliance notice will identify the provisions that are not being complied with and require immediate compliance with the Covid-19 regulations made under the Health Act 1947. The notice informs the person that failure to comply may result in an application to the District Court for a temporary closure order and may result in an objection to the renewal of a licence (or a certificate in the case of a club).
A Garda of superintendent rank or higher may apply to the District Court for a temporary closure order where he or she is of the opinion there has been a failure to comply with a compliance order and that such failure is likely to continue or to recur. This application is made on notice to the licensee. The penalty for a first temporary closure order shall be the closure of the premises for up to 7 days. The penalty for a second or subsequent temporary closure order is closure of the premises for up to 30 days. The Court may consider any mitigating circumstances and any undertakings related to future compliance. The Court has the power to suspend an order and to restore it, as appropriate.
Where a premises is closed due to an emergency closure order or a temporary closure order, a notice must be affixed to the outside of the premises. Failure to affix a notice will be an offence.
There is an appeal to the District Court in relation to a compliance notice. A decision of the District Court under this section can be appealed to the Circuit Court.There is an appeal to the Circuit Court against a temporary closure order.
There are various grounds for objection to the renewal of a licence. and the renewal of a certificate of registration of a club.
The Minister was granted further regulation making power for the Minister for Health to prescribe certain relevant Covid-19 regulations for the purpose of enforcement measures under this Act. Before making such regulations, the Minister for Health must consult the Minister for Justice and Equality.
The Minister may, in respect of a provision of a regulation that is stated to be a penal provision, prescribe such provision to be a relevant provision for the purposes of the Criminal Justice (Enforcement Powers) (Covid-19) Act 2020 and, where he or she does so, the provision so prescribed shall be enforceable under and in accordance with that Act.
When prescribing a provision of a regulation the Minister shall, have regard to—
- the risks with regard to the spread of Covid-19 associated with gatherings of persons and, in particular, where such gatherings are connected with the consumption of intoxicating liquor,
- the need to take such additional protective measures as are practicable in order to mitigate those risks and to prevent, limit, minimise or slow the spread of Covid-19 in an effective manner,
- the extent to which the additional enforcement measures provided for in the Criminal Justice (Enforcement Powers) (Covid-19) Act 2020 could assist in mitigating those risks and preventing, limiting, minimising or slowing the spread of Covid-19 in an effective manner, and
- the need to take additional protective measures to assist and support the State’s efforts to promote and maintain the normal functioning of society, to protect the gradual re-opening of society and, to the greatest extent possible, to avoid the imposition or re-imposition of restrictions thereon.
The purpose of the Health (Amendment) Act 2021 is
- to make exceptional provision, in the public interest and having regard to the manifest and grave risk to human life and public health posed by the spread of Covid-19 and variants of that disease; in order to mitigate, where practicable, the effect of the spread of that disease,
- to make further and better provision for the enforcement of regulations
- to provide for the mandatory quarantine of persons coming into the State from certain areas from where there is known to be sustained human transmission of Covid-19 or any variant of concern, or from which there is a high risk of importation of infection or contamination with Covid-19 or any variant of concern by travel from that area;
- to provide for the designation of such areas by the Minister;
- to provide for the mandatory quarantine of persons coming into the State who fail to comply with certain requirements relating to testing for the disease;
- to provide for the designation of facilities for such quarantine;
- to provide for the conveying of persons to those facilities; to provide for the making of service agreements to facilitate such quarantine;
- to provide for alternatives to such quarantine for persons coming into the State where such persons indicate an intention to apply for international protection or where such persons are children who are not accompanied by an adult; and to
Where a person seeks to rely on a defence of reasonable excuse in prosecutions, the onus of proving the existence of such reasonable excuse in respect of the offence concerned is on the person seeking to avail of it.
A person guilty of an offence under the main provision is liable, on summary conviction, to the following, increased, fine –
- in the case of a first such offence, to a fine not exceeding €4,000 (formerly €1,000) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or both,
- in the case of a second such offence, to a fine not exceeding €4,500 (formerly €1,500) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or both, and
- in the case of a third or subsequent such offence, to a fine not exceeding €5,000 (formerly €2,500) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.
Where a member of the Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds for believing that a person has committed an offence consisting of a contravention of a fixed penalty provision, that that person may make a payment of such amount as may be prescribed, being an amount of not more than €2,000 (formerly €500).
Where a person is guilty of an offence (relating to contravention of a dwelling event provision), that that person shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €4,000 (formerly €1,000) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or both.