Senior gardaí have warned Government officials that new Covid-19 restrictions are unenforceable.
At inter-departmental meetings, gardaí have voiced significant concerns over the vagueness of some regulations they have been asked to police. They have specifically raised issues with enforcing new rules preventing people playing golf more than 5km from their homes.
But other concerns have arisen since the further relaxation of the restrictions last Monday, resulting in more people returning to outdoor activities, related either to work or leisure.
Gardaí have said the new rules are unenforceable and are causing huge confusion for members of the force.
A senior source said there were fears policing new rules was being “left entirely” to gardaí and there was no onus being put on golf clubs.
The number of Covid-19 deaths dropped again yesterday but health officials warned only 1pc of the population had caught the virus so far. Overconfidence as people return to work and social life could lead to a devastating second wave of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Cabinet will today sign off on plans to make it mandatory to give details of where you will be staying for two weeks after you arrive in Ireland. It will be illegal to give false information and gardaí will have the power to check up on passengers to ensure they are self-isolating.
Since the social distancing restrictions were eased, gardaí have been forced to contact golf clubs asking them to stop taking bookings from members who live farther than 5km from the course.
"We have had to call some local golf clubs that have been accepting bookings from any members who shouldn't be allowed to play and we had to tell them that people should not be given bookings if they lived farther than 5km," a senior source said.
Yesterday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called for "more nuance" on the lifting of the lockdown restrictions relating to golf.
Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Martin said people who live more than 5km from their local golf course should be allowed travel there.
"I don't play golf, but if you're saying you can play golf on the one hand, but then you can't really play golf if your golf course is 6km away I think that's the kind of stuff we just need to refine maybe to be more nuanced in how we do things."
Mr Martin said it's "foolish" that hardware stores have been allowed to reopen but homeware shops have to stay closed as coronavirus restrictions were eased this week.
He warned that "in some cases it's damaging the credibility of the overall restrictions".
Meanwhile, senior Garda officers have outlined their frustrations at the role of policing restrictions that has been thrust upon them.
The concerns have been spelled out at a series of meetings, held to assess the reaction of the public to what they see essentially as guidelines rather than regulations. Those concerns have increased since the further relaxation of the restrictions last Monday.
Officers say many of the regulations are, in reality, civic guidelines, which are an issue for personal or social responsibility rather than being a subject for Garda enforcement.
One officer told the Irish Independent: "A lot of young people, who were largely housebound for the past couple of months, are now moving outdoors and, naturally, they are meeting up with their friends in the streets or in public spaces.
"If we come across a group of teenagers in excess of four people talking together on a street or in a park, are we supposed to intervene immediately and warn them they are in breach of the regulations?
"Our policy since the lockdown is to act in a way that is not seen as being heavy- handed while ensuring, where physically possible, that social distancing guidelines are not being broken.
"There have been problems in some areas with golfers travelling more than 5km from their homes for a game at their local clubs. In some cases, we have asked motorists to turn around but we can't be expected to police the movements of every golfer.
"This should be sorted out by the management of each club as they have the addresses of all golfers booking a game. Many of the clubs are playing their part but others are not."
Gardaí say there are also problems in determining what shops should be open under the regulations.
The Department of the Taoiseach has said there are concerns that businesses "which are not aligned with the roadmap" are reopening earlier than set out.
Senior officers called on the public to act responsibly, stick with the roadmap and stop trying to find loopholes.
"If we all play our part for the next nine weeks or so, hopefully we will be in a much better place at the end of it", one added.
Latest figures show that the gardaí used the regulations 241 times between April 8, when they came into effect, and May 16, out of hundreds of thousands of interactions with the public.
But the impact of public behaviour on the spread of the virus in the coming weeks remains to be seen.
A waiting room at Beaumont Hospital was "packed" at the weekend with people "sitting side by side", the Dáil was told.
Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall raised the claims in the Dáil as she quizzed Health Minister Simon Harris on what action is being taken to reduce the risk of infection spreading in hospitals during the coronavirus crisis.
Physical distancing is one of the key measures being advised by public health authorities in the fight against Covid-19.
Mr Harris said he hadn't seen a letter about Beaumont Hospital yet "but I will make sure I see it straight after this and I will respond to the deputy and to the letter".
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