From 19:00 on Friday, July 3 to 23:59 Sunday, July 5, An Garda Síochána conducted 6,830 checks on licensed premises throughout the country under Operation Navigation to support public health guidelines. Gardaí found 2,785 individual licensed premises currently open for business.
Under Operation Navigation an operational order was issued to all local Garda managers that licensed premises in their area operating at the moment were to be checked for adherence to The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No.3) Regulations 2020.
In conducting these visits, An Garda Síochána continued its graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent. This has seen Gardaí engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.
Where potential breaches of the Public Health Regulations are identified, and where a person does not come into compliance with the regulations, a file is submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a direction as to how to proceed.
The vast majority of licensed premises operating were found to be in compliance with regulations and licensing laws – 2,759. But in a small number of cases – 26 individual licensed premises – Gardaí found potential breaches of the health regulations or licensing laws even after providing the premises with the opportunity to rectify the situation. Files will now be prepared for the DPP in each of these cases.
In many of these cases, Gardaí found customers consuming alcohol, but no evidence of food also being consumed and no evidence of receipts to show that food had been sold.
Gardaí also observed a lack of adherence to public health advice such as allowing large groups at the one table, little to no social distancing, no advisory signage, and no COVID-19 contact tracing being recorded.
Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said, "The significant number of visits conducted by Gardaí found a large level of compliance among licensed premises. This is very welcome.
"However, we remain concerned that a minority are potentially operating in breach of the regulations. In doing so, they are putting the health of their customers and staff and everyone they come into contact with after at risk of getting COVID-19.
"We are sending a clear message to such premises that we will be opposing their liquor license renewal applications in September unless they come into compliance.
"In addition, the public has shown great restraint and responsibility to date in adhering to the public health guidelines. The reality is that COVID-19 is still here. We all have an individual responsibility to ensure we continue to play our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19 to protect our family, friends and neighbours.”
The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No.3) Regulations 2020 are currently in effect until the 20th July 2020, which set out certain penal provisions. Social distancing and other similar public health guidelines are not penal provisions.
In addition, under liquor licensing laws, a licensed premises requires a declaration of suitability from a member of An Garda Síochána in order for its liquor license to be renewed.