Gardaí arrested and detained people seven times over the Easter weekend for failing to abide by strict regulations introduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

No one has been charged with a criminal offence as gardaí will consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions in every case before criminal proceedings are commenced.

Garda Headquarters said there were 150 permanent and 500 mobile checkpoints over the weekend.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said it was regrettable that a minority of people did not adhere to the regulations.

Gardaí turned people back from beaches and beauty spots, as well as separated and moved people on in parks and public areas.

While the vast majority of people complied with their directions, in seven cases - despite receiving warnings - people did not adhere to the regulations and had to be arrested.

Gardaí were also called in at least twice by authorised officers, such as doctors, to detain people under the Health Provisions of the Emergency Legislation.

Two men from Roscommon, 55-year-old Josef Gabor from Castlehill, Castlerea, and Roland Klempar from Abbeyville, on the Galway Road, were remanded in custody after the gardaí were called to a house party in Athlone late last night.

Mr Klempar is charged with being abusive to the gardaí while the court heard Mr Gabor allegedly sneezed towards a garda and shouted "there's your coronavirus".

In another case in the southeast, gardaí had to assist an authorised officer and temporarily detain a woman, who was believed to have addiction and mental health issues.

She was brought to a medical facility after she continued to breach the HSE restrictions.

Two people from Limerick on their way to a beach in Co Clare were also arrested after they refused to give gardaí their names and addresses. The couple - who are Polish nationals - were taken to a garda station and later released when their identities were established.

Gardaí have been instructed not to charge anyone they suspect of breaching the Covid-19 regulations with a criminal offence, without first consulting with the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Garda Headquarters also said that in 144 cases where potential breaches of the regulations were suspected - such as house parties and non-essential travel - public order, assault, road traffic, and drugs legislation was used instead.

"There was a very high level of compliance with the public health guidelines over the Easter weekend," said Commissioner Harris.

"I want to thank the public for that. This has helped save lives. We now need people to continue that high level of compliance over the coming weeks. Working together we can reduce the spread of Covid-19.

"Regrettably, there was a small minority who did not adhere to the guidelines or other legislation and Garda members had no option but to use the regulations or other legislation.

"This demonstrates the need for the regulations not only from an enforcement point of view, but also to support those who are willingly living their lives in line with the public health guidelines," he added.