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Public warned to only visit parks and beauty spots within 2km of their homes

— Motorists told to stay at home unless its necessary travel and to slow down.
— Members of the public warned to stay within 2km of their home for exercise.
— Road deaths lower, but fatal and serious collisions still happening.

What is being described as a “major policing operation” to backup the public health travel restrictions to tackle the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has started this afternoon, according to the Gardai.

Code named ‘Operation Fanacht’, the Garda press office said that it will involve thousands of checkpoints every day and over 2,500 Gardaí involved in “checkpoints or high visibility patrolling” at any one time.

Officers now have powers to arrest people who do not follow the health guidelines after the health minister, Simon Harris, last night enacted the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020. The new law includes fines of up to €2,500 and up to six months in prison.

“This significant policing operation is designed to support travel restrictions put in place to help flatten the curve and save lives,” said John Twomey, deputy Garda commissioner who oversees policing and security.

He continued: “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.”

Deputy Twomey said: “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.”

John Caulfield, interim CEO of the Road Safety Authority, said: “While the roads will have less traffic than normal over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend it doesn’t mean that there is no danger on the roads. People will be out exercising by going for a walk or cycle. So, I’m asking drivers to watch out for vulnerable road users and to slow down.”

He added: “Never has it been more important to practice good road safety habits because every crash and injury we prevent means we are putting less pressure on our first responders and health professions at a time of national crisis.”

According to the Government’s health guidelines, you are only allowed beyond the 2km to travel to and from (1) your workplace if it is classed as an essential service or shop (2) visiting an essential shop, bank or post office, (3) attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products for yourself, your family or someone who is vulnerable or ‘cocooning’ and (4) for vital family reasons including caring for children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits.

For exercise, the guidelines state that you cannot exercise with people from outside your household and people have been told to walk and cycle locally within 2km of their homes.

The high-profile operation started at noon today and will run until Monday night, April 13, and restrictions are expected to be extended.

The Garda press office outlined the following as examples of recent speeding detections:

  • 185kph in a 100km/h zone on the N22, Cork
  • 149kph in a 60km/h zone on the R147, Meath
  • 225kph in a 120km/h zone on the M1, Dublin
  • 159kph in a 80km/h zone on the R420, Offaly
  • 95kph in a 50km/h zone on the N6, Galway

This morning at 2am a single vehicle road traffic collision which happened at The Forge Cross, Castlemore, Tullow, Co Carlow left three people in their 20s in a serious condition in hospital in Kilkenny. Gardai said that the car left the road and collided with the corner of a house on the cross road of the Rathoe Road and Castlemore Road.

On Monday, the Dublin Fire Brigade tweeted how it continues to have to deal with normal calls, including an incident of a three-car collusion which resulted in an overturned car: is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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Cian Ginty

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