Coronavirus: Essential workers should carry identification, says Garda Commissioner

Drew Harris: ‘We will stop individuals and be making sure their journey is essential’

An Garda Síochána are carrying out a major policing operation nationwide to ensure people are complying with new coronavirus restrictions. At checkpoints, motorists are being questioned about the nature of their journeys. Video: Bryan O'Brien


Over 2,500 gardaí are currently on duty across the country to ensure that people are observing the latest restriction measures to limit the spread of Covid-19, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said.

Mr Harris said gardaí will be stopping people to make sure their journey is “essential” and that workers should carry identification.

The Garda Commissioner, who was briefing reporters on Saturday morning, said people should contact gardaí “if they see a blatant disregard as to what the regulations are so we can deal with that”.

“We will stop individuals and be making sure their journey is essential,” Mr Harris said.

“We will have to obviously apply discretion on that. If an essential worker has got their ID and some form of description of what their work is and we can examine at the roadside, then that’s fine.”

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Mr Harris said that people “shouldn’t panic” and that there will still be “a lot of people” continuing to travel to work. “I would encourage people there is a good food supply, there’s no need to worry about food supply. You can go to the shops, that’s an essential journey,” he added.

People have been told to stay at home in virtually all circumstances and all public and private gatherings have been banned for two weeks as part of the Government’s latest sweeping measures to tackle coronavirus.

More non-essential shops and services will be closed, non-essential surgery is to stop and a ban on visiting hospitals and other healthcare settings is being imposed except on compassionate grounds.

The only exceptions to the stay-at-home rule is for travel to health, social care or other essential work, shopping for food and takeaways, medical appointments and for “vital family reasons” such as providing care.

People will also be allowed take “brief, individual” physical exercise within 2km of their home, and farming will continue.

Mr Harris said gardaí are taking a “graduated response” to engage with the public as they await further emergency legislation to enforce the restriction measures.

“The regulations will come along shortly, we will have them in a matter of days,” he said.