There have been a total of 64 incidents of spitting and coughing against members of An Garda Síochána recorded during the past month.

According to information released by the gardaí, members had to use anti-spit guards 47 times between 8 April and 9 May during interactions with the public.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said, "Unfortunately, we continue to see these disgusting and despicable spitting and coughing attacks on our personnel. These are a significant health and safety risk to our members in the current environment. We must protect them from such attacks. 

"This includes having the option of using anti-spit guards in very limited circumstances. We have made it clear these anti-spit guards are only to be used as last resort and in line with the Garda Decision Making Model, which includes at its centre human rights and our Code of Ethics."

Gardaí say up until last Saturday (9 May) they have invoked regulations 192 times out of hundreds of thousands of interactions with members of the public. 

This includes arrests and incidents without arrest where name and address details were taken. Gardaí say arresting people remains a last resort.

A statement issued via the Garda press office said, ''The vast majority were adhering to the public health guidelines.''

But they say a ''small minority'' are failing to comply with the public health guidelines and the temporary Covid-19 regulations.

Gardaí confirmed the number of incidents involving other suspected crimes far exceeds the number of cases involving breaches of the Government restrictions.

There have been 1,432 incidents where other offences were identified during Covid-19 operations. 

These include drink driving or disqualified drivers detected at checkpoints, to drugs and weapons seizures to public order offences.

Between 12 March and 9 May, the Garda National Vetting Bureau (GNVB) processed 21,542 vetting applications for Covid-related roles.

This includes applications across medical and healthcare roles and voluntary groups. The current turnaround time for vetting applications is one day.