The government’s policy on Covid 19 is a shambles. But instead of accepting blame, they want to fine ordinary people. If you travel outside of the 5km limit you can be fined. If you have people over to your house, you can be fined.
But if you are a meat plant owner who caused Covid-19 to spread, you will not be fined. Or if are the head of the HSE who messed up on contact tracing, there will be no fines.
The Gardai will instead be instructed to direct their efforts at ordinary people. And the politicians will continue to talk about ‘personal responsibility’ to hide their failure to put health before business interests
The new Health (Amendment) Bill (2020) has the following provisions:
- On the spot fines of €500 and then fines of up to €1,000 for first offence or one month in prison; €1,500 for second offence or three months in jail; €2,500 for third offence or 6 months in jail.
- Fines for those who manage or publicise protest events.
- Power for the Gardai to come to your house to direct people to leave. €1,000 fine for failure to comply.
The fines are a sign of government failure. They have lost trust and confidence because people are fed up of the ‘stop-go’ approach to Covid. They have given us a 6 week lock down – so we can rush out to buy for Christmas. Then it will start all over again with more lock downs in January. This is not a strategy – it is a dithering to facilitate business interest.
People Before Profit have produced a comprehensive document for a Zero Covid strategy which offers a way out of stop-go lockdowns. You can find our proposed policy here.
Research from NUI Galway as part of a global study of attitudes towards Covid-19 public health guidelines shows that threats of arrest or fines do not help encourage people to behave in line with the advice.
In Britain, there are fines of up to £10,000, but the number of Covid cases has soared to over 20,000 a day. In the North, nearly 1,500 fines have been issued but it has not halted the spread.
The reality is that fines will be mainly directed at working class people and will hit them hardest. Young people with a six pack are more likely to be fined than those who hold posh dinner parties.
Instead of fines, we need public investment in testing and tracing. We need to shut the schools for a week at least after the mid-term break to ensure ventilation, extra spacing and regular testing. We need to guarantee ordinary people a sustainable living standard so they can cope. That means forcing employers to provide sick pay schemes and making them top up temporary wage subsidies. We need to freeze the rents, ban evictions, delay mortgage payments.
In other words, real policies to get to Zero Vovid in the community – not more attacks on individuals.