From top: Pre-Covid revelry; Special measures for Dublin
Legal boffins Dr Oran Doyle and Dr David Kenny are members of the COVID-19 Law and Human Rights Observatory at Trinity College Dublin.
Since the rona outbreak, they have studied the ‘divergence between the announcement of restrictive measures and what is actually prohibited by law’.
You may recall Dr Kenny spoke at a recent Oireachtas Special Covid-19 Committee meeting about possible government overreach and lack of clarity.
Of the new restrictions, Doyle and Kenny write on their blog [at link below]:
It is in relation to the [red marked bullet-point, above] that significant divergence emerges between the Regulations and the Government announcement.
As presented by the Government, this measure prohibits more than two households meeting at any time, whether indoors or outdoors, and with a maximum of six people.
Part of this is included in the regulations and is a legal requirement; a large part is not.
Regulation 5A only applies to events in private dwellings. ‘Private dwelling’ is not defined in the Regulations, but the definition of ‘dwelling’ in the primary statute, which refers to a dwelling including a part of a house, strongly implies that the dwelling is the physical structure in which people live.
It seems to follow that there is no legal prohibition on events in, for example, the gardens of private dwellings.
Still less so is there any prohibition on more than one household gathering in public places outside.
The second way in which the Regulations diverge from the Government announcement is that no numerical limit is placed on the number of people from two households who may gather in a private dwelling.
Moreover, Regulation 5A is not deemed to be a penal provision, meaning that breach of the provision— although unlawful — cannot lead to criminal punishment, nor to enforcement powers for the Gardaí. This was notably termed a “civil offence”, though this is not a term with established legal meaning.
….it is difficult to read the [red marked bullet point] as an announcement of anything other than legal prohibitions. This impression is then enhanced by the fact that some of the measures contained in that bullet-point are now implemented through legal prohibition, while some are entirely absent from the regulations.
It is hard, without skill in compiling and reading secondary legislation, to know what the law truly requires, and so citizens will inevitably be confused as to what the law is and what they are legally required to do.
All back to mine.
Top Pic: Eventstock