Three people who claimed they travelled around 80km from their homes in Co Meath “to collect burgers from a takeaway” have been fined by gardaí for breaching Covid-19 restrictions.
Gardaí have issued 29 on the spot fines, or fixed payment notices (FPNs), to people more than 5km from home without a reasonable excuse. The fines were issued between Monday, when the new €100 fines came into force, and Wednesday.
In one case, a motorist was stopped on Sean Moore Road, Ringsend, in Dublin’s south inner city. He “stated that he and two passengers travelled from Co Meath to collect ‘burgers’ from a takeaway restaurant in Dublin 4 having travelled approximately 80km from home,” gardaí said.
All three occupants of the car received a FPN.
In another case a driver in Midleton, Co Cork, was stopped at a checkpoint more than 5km from home and agreed to return home. However, she was later spotted for a second time, at a beach, more than 5km from home and was fined.
A similar case was recorded in Cork City when a couple not from the same household were stopped in a car and claimed to be visiting an elderly relative. However, they were spotted a second time in the area and had not made any visit, resulting in fines.
In a third case two cyclists stopped near Carrick, Galway, were “not from the same household”, were not social distancing, had no face coverings and were 19km from home and outside their home county. They “claimed the reasonable excuse of physical exercise, but were outside 5km applicable limit” and were fined.
In another incident in north Co Dublin four people were seen leaving a gym. A closer inspection revealed two instructors also at the location and they claimed they were working from the gym as they had “no internet at home to conduct online sessions”. All six people were issued with fixed penalty notices.
Gardaí who spoke to The Irish Times expressed concern at the very large number of walkers and snow tourists who made their way to the Wicklow uplands last weekend despite the 5km from home restriction currently in place.
Now Garda Headquarters has warned fines for being outside the 5km zone or for parking illegally would be issued this weekend at beauty spots and other public amenities across the State.
It also warned that vehicles parked in a manner that obstructed access for emergency vehicles on roads would be towed away, as had occurred in parts of Co Wicklow last weekend.
Some 50 fixed charge notices (FCNs) were issued in the Wicklow uplands, mostly last Saturday, while several tow trucks and crew were deployed to tow vehicles away on the basis they blocked access for emergency vehicles.
Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said while it was important for members of the public to avail of exercise and get fresh air this had to be done within 5km of a person’s home. Static and mobile checkpoints would be established on roads across the country to encourage compliance with that measure.
“Our health service is under pressure,” he said. “Deaths from Covid-19 are rising. ICU admissions are increasing. The best way for people to protect and honour front-line workers is to stay at home.
“The best way for people to protect their loved ones, their neighbours, and their communities is to stay at home.”
He urged people to “only make essential journeys”, exercise within 5km of home and to minimise the contacts with others while also wearing a mask and adhering to social distancing.