‘High visibility’ Garda patrols to focus on night economy and travel

Calls on licensed premises to restart but fixed checkpoints on motorways to be removed

An Garda Síochána has warned the public it will be continuing "major high visibility" operations as the State moves from Level 5 to Level 3 coronavirus restrictions overnight.

Operations will focus on the newly opened “night-time economy” and on the implementation of travel restrictions, the Garda said.

While non-essential shops, museums, cinemas and places of worship reopen on Tuesday and restaurants open on Friday, travel restrictions remain in place, with visits to other households and intercounty travel not permitted until December 18th.

Under Operation Fanacht, more than 100 Garda checkpoints will be in place on main routes, supported by a schedule of mobile checkpoints. Garda on duty will be focusing on implementation of the guidelines on intercounty travel. Static checkpoints will operate during off-peak hours, from 10am to 4pm, and 7pm to 9pm.

Fixed checkpoints on motorway and dual carriageway routes will no longer be in place, but “high visibility patrols will take place in key city, urban and retail locations in the run-up to Christmas”, the Garda said.

“There will also be patrols that will focus on the night-time economy. On this, An Garda Síochána will be liaising closely with retail and licensed premises.”

Checks on licensed premises under Operation Navigation will recommence. There will be continued active investigation of domestic abuse, as well as support for victims under Operation Faoiseamh and “community engagement activity” will continue to focus on the vulnerable and those who feel isolated, particularly at Christmas time.

“Gardaí will continue to use the 4Es approach of engage, explain and encourage, and only as a last resort, enforcement,” it said. “An Garda Síochána can only enforce penal regulations. It does not have powers to enforce public health guidelines.”

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said there had been "very good compliance by the public with the health advice and regulations" throughout the pandemic and it was "critical" this continued.

“While people are able to undertake more activities and travel wider from December 1st, we all need to remember that Covid-19 is still with us and we should act accordingly. We all must continue to play our part by heeding the public health advice. This is the best way of protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbours.”

Deputy commissioner John Twomey said the main focus was on keeping people safe. "In addition, while the run-up to Christmas is a time of joy for many people, for some it can be lonely and difficult. An Garda Síochána will have a particular emphasis during the coming weeks on reaching out to people who are vulnerable or feel isolated. We are here to help in any way we can. If you know someone who is struggling or needs help, please contact your local Garda station and we will do whatever we can. Even a social distanced chat can make a world of difference to people at this stressful time."

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times