Gardaí have begun issuing the warning as some people have decided to ignore current travel restrictions, accepting the related fine as part of the cost of their holiday.
According to The Irish Times, gardaí are also waiting for a number of families to return from foreign holidays in order to issue a court summons.
The current fine for breaching travel restrictions stands at €500, having been increased from €100 and €200 previously, but the Cabinet will debate legislation today regarding increasing the fine amount to €2,000.
With people choosing to ignore the restrictions and continue with their holiday plans, gardaí have started formally instructing travellers in breach to comply with the law under powers given to them under Section 31(a) (7) of the Health Act 1947.
Anyone who fails to comply with these directions from gardaí is committing a criminal offence and may be prosecuted, resulting in a criminal record if convicted. The offence carries a prison sentence of up to one month and a €1,000 fine.
Gardaí are issuing the €500 fine to people found in breach of the travel restrictions before directing them not to continue their journey.
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If they decide to continue with their travel plans, gardaí then warn them of the further criminal offence they would be committing and of the additional fine, prison term and criminal record they may receive.
Gardaí have said this has generally been enough to put people off their non-essential journeys, however a small cohort are deciding to continue with their holidays. In these instances, court summons are being prepared accordingly.
Asked whether gardaí can arrest people at the departure gates of airports, a senior garda said arrest is “not a form of punishment and will only be used in the most exceptional cases.”
As of February 12th, gardaí have issued almost 5,000 fines for non-essential travel, including 132 fines for non-essential travel to ports and airports.