A Galway City Councillor is calling for Gardaí to be given emergency powers to deal with Airbnbs hosting house parties in the COVID-19 crisis.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Alan Cheevers said that giving Gardaí the power to close pubs if they don’t comply with COVID regulations is not as important as the clusters that will evolve from house parties.
New emergency legislation has also been brought in this week which gives Gardaí the power to order a pub or restaurant closed for the remainder of the day if it is found breaching COVID-19 regulations.
If there are subsequent violations after this, Gardaí can seek orders from the District Court to have a premises closed for up to 30 days.
Similar emergency legislation is needed to give Gardaí the power to police Airbnbs that are being rented for house parties Alan Cheevers suggested.
“The laws state that Garda need a warrant to enter a property to stop these parties,” Councillor Cheevers said.
“I believe emergency legislation needs to be brought in. It is a serious health and safety issue, and as COVID-19 cases rise we need to see this dealt with.”
Under current COVID-19 regulations, no more than 6 people are allowed at an indoor gathering, with limited exceptions, such as for weddings.
Councillor Cheevers added that there is an onus on both property owners to vet the people they are renting to, and on the council to ensure that Airbnbs are operating with the proper planning permission.