The Government is expected to introduce a system of graduated fines before the end of the month for breaches of Covid-19 guidelines, including failure to wear face marks when required and undertaking non-essential journeys.

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Covid-19 endorsed the recommendation made by National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) for an on-the-spot fine system for breaches of rules.

No figures were given but the fines are expected to be similar to those in the UK, which are €70 (£60) for a first offence and higher for subsequent offences.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will work with departmental officials to produce a memo for Cabinet either next week or the following. It is expected the new system could be in operation by the end of the month.

Separately, the Cabinet agreed to endorse the European ‘traffic light’ system for international travel during the pandemic, expected to be formally agreed at a summit meeting in Brussels next week.

International passengers will be able to bypass quarantine requirements if they take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, and possibly an antigen test, when departing and entering EU States.

If agreed by Cabinet next Tuesday, passengers arriving from ‘Green’ countries (those with less than 25 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population) will not need to quarantine nor take tests. However, for those entering and leaving orange or red countries, they will be required to take a PCR test three days before leaving the country.