An Garda Síochána has launched a major operation to ensure public compliance with the travel restrictions introduced recently as part of COVID-19 public health guidelines.
Operation Fanacht, which will see an extensive network of checkpoints established across the country, will run from 12pm today (Wednesday,, April 8th) until Monday night, (April 13th).
It will involve thousands of checkpoints every day. At any one time, there will be over 2,500 Gardaí involved in checkpoints or high visibility patrolling.
'Help flatten the curve and save lives'
Speaking today, Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said, "This significant policing operation is designed to support travel restrictions put in place to help flatten the curve and save lives.
"There has been very good compliance with the travel restrictions and we want to thank the public for this. However, it is vital that this continues over the coming days and over the weekend. This will save lives.
"In particular, we would ask people who are thinking of travelling to parks, natural beauty spots or holiday homes outside of the 2km limit not to do so. We are sending them a clear message that if they are stopped at a checkpoint they will be turned back.”
The operation will also see Gardaí conduct high visibility patrols at major tourist locations, parks and natural beauty spots to ensure compliance with travel restrictions.
"Unfortunately, despite the reduced traffic levels, there are still people putting their lives and the lives of others at risk by speeding, drink and drug driving, and not wearing their seat belt,” said Deputy Twomey.
The National Health Emergency Team have issued a message to the general public to continue to stay at home to control the spread of Covid-19.
Fears have been arising over the upcoming Easter celebrations, with a large number of people rumoured to be travelling to other areas for the long weekend.
In their message, they stated that people have been sacrificing for a number of weeks now and commend them for protecting everyone on the island of Ireland.
“We urge the public, on this Easter holiday with sunshine and isolation fatigue, to stay the course and comply with the recommendations and measures in place. Stay at home and keep Ireland safe.”
“Do the right thing. Spread the message, not the virus,” the message concluded.
Fines and prison sentences
In order to control the spread and prevent people from travelling to other areas this weekend. Simon Harris, Minister for Health, has signed regulations to give gardaí the power to enforce Covid-19 restrictions.
These regulations will mean that a greater Garda presence will be available on the roads this weekend in order to ensure that only essential journeys are being made and those taking non-essential trips will be penalised.
Those found travelling to holiday homes or caravan sites during this period or breaching other Covid-19-related restrictions can be fined up to €2,500 or face a jail sentence.
Harris said that people cannot become complacent over the following days and weeks. “Your efforts are helping our country but now is not the time to be complacent. We need you to stick with the public health advice, challenging as it is, to help save lives & flatten the curve. We never thought it would be easy, but it will be worth it.”