Gardaí are warning the public to stay at home for the Easter weekend - or run the risk of being turned back at nationwide checkpoints.
here are mounting concerns over large numbers of people deciding to relax their coronavirus vigilance for what would normally be a bank holiday weekend break.
These include day-trippers or those decamping to holiday homes for a few days over Easter.
The issue has been considered by the Garda national Covid-19 co-ordination unit, which is under the deputy commissioner in charge of policing and security, John Twomey.
Health Minister Simon Harris last night signed off on new regulations to give gardai enforcement powers against those who breach Covid-19 restrictions.
"It is important that gardaí have these powers in their back pocket should they be needed," he told RTÉ's 'Prime Time'.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris last night met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and senior ministers to discuss the issue of enforcement powers.
It came as Ireland suffered its deadliest day for fatalities with 36 people losing their lives to the virus.
The regulations will allow gardaí to bring prosecutions and issue fines to those found flouting the current policies such as social distancing and the ban on mass gatherings due to the virus.
The Irish Independent has learned that gardaí are preparing to step up enforcement amid fears people will break Covid-19 restrictions.
Officers will be out in force and manning checkpoints around the country over the next few days.
Anybody found to be in breach of the 2km travel ban will be turned back at the roadblocks, unless they have an exemption.
A particular focus will be placed on people who own holiday homes and are planning to spend the Easter there, and others who want to rent houses in coastal areas or beauty spots or visit relatives.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned yesterday that the emergency restrictions wouldn't be eased until our testing regime was improved to the point where it was possible to "hunt down" cases and contacts within 24 to 48 hours.
Gardaí say the 2km travel limits are already being implemented and those found to be breaking the guidelines, without a good reason, are being turned back.
The redeployment of some personnel from areas such as the Garda College and the early attestation of 325 new gardaí has allowed the authorities to deploy more officers on the beat as well as mobile patrols.
According to Deputy Commissioner Twomey, gardaí are seeing high levels of public compliance with the health guidelines.
"Covid-19 presents a considerable challenge but it is one that our people are rising to meet. We have put in place measures to heighten visibility and provide support to people, particularly the vulnerable.
"If we all continue to work together, we can flatten the curve," Mr Twomey added.
Mr Varadkar said on Monday he did not want to sign tougher laws on enforcement at the moment. "The last thing I want is people to come out after this emergency with fines and prison sentences and criminal convictions," he said.
"So while we can bring in tougher laws and they are ready to be signed if we need to, I don't want to do that just yet, certainly not unless the Garda Commissioner really feels it's absolutely necessary."
But the issue of giving gardaí more powers was discussed at length at Cabinet.
While many ministers noted the strong degree of public compliance, some expressed fears that the longer the restrictions continue, the more potential there is that people could stop complying with the measures.
A Cabinet minister said afterwards: "Once people realise they're not going to be punished for something, they will break the rules. So this thing could break down."
With fears many people may chose to ignore the 2km restriction over the bank holiday weekend, Mr Harris decided to move on the issue last night.
Already, gardaí manning checkpoints in west Galway have reported an increase in motorists travelling longer journeys.
Locals in west Cork have also raised concerns that British tourists have taken up residence in the area.
Five scheduled car ferries will arrive today in Dublin port from Liverpool and Holyhead.
West Cork local Trisha McCormack said the areas of Schull, Goleen, Baltimore, and Durras had been "completely inundated" by visitors in recent weeks.
"People are coming in their droves to west Cork and going to their holiday homes to settle in for lockdown. It hasn't stopped since.
"The cars with English or Dublin registrations have become increasingly noticeable," she said.
Hotelier Michael Vaughan, who owns Vaughan Lodge in Lahinch, said locals were living in fear of an influx of visitors this weekend.
"A retiree I was speaking to was very upset when a couple arrived into the apartment across from him.
"And the first thing they did was go down to the shop where he goes every day. Now he is afraid to go out of the house.
"We would just like people to be considerate," he added.