Extra measures to enforce Covid-19 restrictions announced by Garda

Patrols to be stepped up with more checkpoints on roads

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has warned pub owners and members of the public to “forget about takeaway pints” who said their sale encouraged social gatherings at odds with Covid-19 regulations designed to keep people at home. Video: RTE News Now

 

Leaving home without a reasonable excuse , such as exercise within a person’s 5km radius, is an enforceable criminal offence during this Level 5 lockdown, the Garda has warned.

However, it said restrictions did not apply to a victim fleeing a domestic violence or coercive control situation. People at risk of those crimes would be supported by gardaí across the Republic and would receive “the highest priority”.

The Garda announced additional measures aimed at supporting the Government’s plans to reduce the spreadof Covid-19. It also listed recent court outcomes against people found to be in breach of pandemic-related restrictions.

These included incidents in counties Cavan, Kildare, Sligo, Dublin, Tipperary, Meath and Leitrim during which people who breached travel restrictions were fined up to €1,000 each and jailed for up to four months.

The most serious sanction, involving a four-month jail term, was imposed on a woman discovered in a house that was not her home.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said everyone had a role to play in combating the spread of the virus, especially at this time when case numbers were so high.

“Now, more than ever, we all need to adhere to the public health advice,” he said. “Stay home. Please only make essential journeys. Minimise the amount of people you meet. Wear a face mask. Maintain social distancing. Wash your hands.”

What’s the Garda plan?

As well as warning people they could be prosecuted for breaching regulations restricting their movements until the end of January, the Garda has also set out its plans for the weeks ahead which include:

- Extra static checkpoints from 7am on Thursday on national roads, but not motorways, under Operation Fanacht, to back up the mobile checkpoints commenced on national roads last week;

- Additional officers to be deployed, including 70 trainees to be attested and deployed and 60 reservists to be attested;

- Units to be split into smaller bubbles to mitigate the hazard from the more contagious UK variant.

- A crackdown by specialist units on any organised crime elements trying to use the pandemic to profit via fraud and other criminality.

Gardaí will also be stepping up patrols around scenic areas. These include parks and popular local amenities to check they are not crowded while ensuring compliance with the regulation allowing exercise only within a 5km radius of a person’s home.

Under Operation Navigation gardaí will be checking to ensure licensed premises are not trading and Operation Treoraím will ensure enforcement of regulations resulting in closure of non-essential retail.

The deputy commissioner said the force would also support vulnerable people in the community. Moreover, gardaí would continue to focus on engaging with members of the public, explaining regulations, encouraging compliance and opting for enforcement only as a last resort.

Increased danger

Earlier, the Garda Representative Association said members of the force must be among the groups given high-priority for receiving the Covid-19 vaccine as they faced an “increased danger of exposure” in their work.

Separately, emergency services have appealed to hillwalkers and others to obey travel restrictions.

In Co Kerry, the 5km rule has been flouted widely with hundreds of hill walkers arriving daily to climb mountains from Mangerton in Killarney, to Mount Brandon in west Kerry.

Six members of the Kerry Mountain Rescue were involved in a five-hour rescue on Tuesday which began at 1pm and did not end until 6pm in dark and icy conditions.

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