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Level 5 latest: Gardaí to be given new powers to fine people for holding house parties

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Gardaí will be given new powers to fine people who hold house parties under new measures agreed by the Cabinet today.

Under the new plans, gardaí can call to a door and break up a house party but they may not enter the home. Instead they will ask the owner to break up the party and if they refuse to do so they will be fined under a fixed charge notice.

Furthermore if a person is seen loitering in area and gardaí suspect they are going to house party, the officers can ask the person to leave the area. If the person refuses they will be fined.

The Cabinet was meeting on Tuesday the day after Level 5 restrictions were announced to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The Cabinet also agreed that the number of attendees at a funeral will be increased to 25 under Level 5 restrictions. It was previously agreed on Monday that the limit would be ten, but at a meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday it was agreed to increase the number in line with the numbers allowed at weddings.

The Cabinet was also discussing a range of fines that may be imposed on those who breach Covid 19 guidelines in the six week lockdown.

Following days of warnings from senior public health officials about the continuing spread of Covid-19, the Government on Monday night reversed its previous stance and announced the introduction of Level 5 restrictions for the entire State for until December 1st.

It is understood the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly brought a memo detailing what penalties will apply for those who break the travel restrictions amongst other measures.

Under the Level 5 plan, schools and childcare facilities will remain open, as will construction sites and manufacturing, but non-essential retail businesses and services such as hairdressing will be forced to close, plunging tens of thousands of people into unemployment and costing the exchequer hundreds of millions of euro in lost taxes and in welfare payments.

People have been told not to travel more than 5km from their homes and it is understood there will now be penal provisions attached to travelling outside this 5km radius except in certain circumstances.

Q&A: Life under Level 5: What will the next six weeks look like?

Last night, a further 1,031 confirmed cases of Covid-19 reported by Nphet brought the total number of coronavirus cases in the State to 50,993, less than eight months after the first case of the virus was recorded in Ireland.

As of 8pm on Monday, there were 300 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland’s hospitals and 32 in intensive care. By 8am on Tuesday, the hospital figure had risen to 315 with the ICU the same.

In a televised address to the country from Government Buildings last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that while the restrictions of recent weeks have “slowed the spread of the virus, this has not been enough, and further action is now required”.

The decision was announced after a Cabinet meeting arranged at short notice yesterday gave its approval for the move, although not without some dissent from Ministers. The measures come into place on Wednesday night at midnight, into Thursday morning.

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