Thousands of gardaí mount checkpoints and patrol parks, beauty spots

New laws allowing fines for breaches expected next week

Gardaí have started a major high visibility policing operation to coincide with the highest level of Covid-19 restrictions being introduced nationwide.

Under the Government’s five-tiered framework for living with the virus, the Republic moved to Level 5 restrictions at midnight on Wednesday for six weeks.

Gardaí said they were introducing a range of measures including high visibility patrols and rolling checkpoints on the country’s main roads to coincide with the imposition of the new measures.

Hospital Report

There will be over 2,500 Gardai on duty at any one time to ensure compliance with the public health guidelines.

The 132 static checkpoints on motorways introduced earlier this month will remain and will be supplemented by hundreds of rolling checkpoints on main and secondary roads.

Gardaí said there would also be patrols in parks, natural beauty spots, and public amenities.

They will also continue to assist vulnerable people, in particular those who are isolated and victims of domestic abuse.

Training in the Garda College will be suspended for the next nine weeks except for specialist training activity.

It will allow 200 Garda trainees and 60 gardaí working as tutors and instructors to be transferred to front-line policing.

Where possible gardaí in administrative roles will be re-deployed to operational duties.

The 12-hour contingency roster will be extended until the end of March 2021.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: "There was very good compliance by the public with the travel restrictions when they were in place before. It is vital that we see that high level of compliance again this time. The public health advice is clear. This will help save lives.

“In particular, we would ask people to think about their journeys and not exercise or travel outside the 5km limit unless it meets the essential criteria.”

He added that the Garda was continuing with its graduated response of policing by consent.

“This is a difficult time for everybody, but if we all work together we can reduce the spread of Covid-19 and protect our families, friends and neighbours,” the commissioner said.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said gardaí had been helping vulnerable people and those who feel isolated throughout the pandemic and would continue to do so.

“Gardai have collected prescriptions, delivered pensions and had socially distanced contacts,” he said.

“If people need such assistance or know someone who does, please contact your local Garda station. We are here to help.” - PA

Jennifer Bray writes: Under new legislation agreed by the Cabinet on Tuesday night, gardaí will be empowered to arrive at a property and direct that any gathering or party in breach of public health guidelines be stopped. People who breach other aspects of the six-week lockdown, such as the 5km travel restriction, face on the spot fines. The maximum fine will be €500 but it is likely that the starting fine could be much lower, potentially €60, although this detail has yet to be agreed and does not feature in the legislation.

The Government has said it intends to enact the new law “as soon as possible.” At this moment in time, it appears that it will be the end of next week at the earliest before the measures are signed into law.