The entrance gates to Dublin's Phoenix Park that have been closed since March in response to coronavirus travel restrictions, will not be reopened on Monday as previously planned, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has said.
Motorists are also set to face new restrictions in the coming months to “curb traffic volumes” and for “maintaining safe, quiet, open spaces for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy” in the park the OPW confirmed.
Following the introduction of the 2km travel restrictions in March, the OPW closed the park gates to traffic with the exception of the Castleknock and Parkgate Street entrances.
These gates remained open to allow the continued use of Chesterfield Avenue as a through-road, and to maintain access for park residences, such as Áras an Uachtaráin and the US ambassador’s residence, as well as Garda Headquarters. However, all car parking in the park was banned.
In line with the Government’s roadmap for the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, the OPW reopened some car parks, including the facility beside the papal cross, on May 18th, but parking remains banned on Chesterfield Avenue with the hard shoulder instead converted into cycle lanes.
It had planned to reopen all the gates from 10am on June 8th, in line with phase two of the roadmap, but following consultation with the Garda it decided to delay the reopening until June 29th.
However, the OPW on Friday morning said it will not reopen the gates on Monday, and has not set any future date for their reopening. It has also given its strongest signal yet that the use of the park as a “throughway” to the city could be brought to an end and said “further measures to curb traffic volumes in the park are likely to be introduced in the coming months.”
Thousands of people signed an online petition, initiated by Green Party councillor Michael Pidgeon last month, calling for the end of the use of the park as a throughway for motorists.
The OPW was “determined to ensure that the park is a safe, quiet, green space for our visitors, where flora and fauna thrives and where visitors’ health and wellbeing can be enhanced through experiencing the natural environment in the park,” OPW commissioner John McMahon said
“With this in mind, reducing the volume of ‘through-traffic’ is critical and maintaining safe, quiet, open spaces for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy is a key priority for OPW.”
Cars can still access the park through the Castleknock and Parkgate Street gates and the current parking arrangements will be maintained. However, the OPW said: "These measures are being kept under constant review with An Garda Síochána and other key stakeholders and the OPW is monitoring and measuring the impact of these initiatives."
Visitors are asked to ensure that they park responsibly in designated car parking areas only.