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Gardaí are to carry out checks of pubs serving food across the country to monitor adherence to public health guidelines.

Licenced premises reopened on Monday with the stipulation that a substantial meal worth €9 must be purchased for individuals to also buy alcohol in such establishments.

An Garda Síochána have confirmed that Operation Navigation will commence from 7pm this evening (Friday). It follows concerns from Garda management, the public and industry representative bodies that some licensed premises and their customers have not been adhering to the public health guidelines.

Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said, “When licenced premises were initially shut under the public health guidelines An Garda Síochána checked thousands of licensed premises to ensure they remained closed, which the vast, vast majority did. Our intention in this latest phase was to conduct a large number of spot-checks of licensed premises. However, it now appears that just a few days after their introduction some licensed premises and their customers are ignoring the public health guidelines. By doing so, they are putting themselves and everyone they then come into contact with at risk of getting COVID-19. This is not acceptable and we are now expanding our planned checks.”

An Garda Síochána has today given an operational order to all local Garda managers that licensed premises in their area operating at the moment are to be checked for adherence to The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No.3) Regulations 2020. 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.

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. 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.

Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Clare TD, Michael McNamara (IND) described the rules on substantial meals as “farcical”.

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