Gardaí may be redeployed to beauty spots as crowds flock to parks and beaches
Noted increase in people socialising outdoors, Garda sources in Dublin say
All car parks at Phoenix Park, Dublin, were reported to be “near capacity” at lunchtime on Sunday, despite travel and social restrictions in place to combat the spread of Covid-19. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
The number of people gathered in public amenities during the weekend is very likely to see Garda personnel redeployed to popular locations to discourage crowds forming, according to Garda sources in Dublin. Gardaí were expected to reintroduce static checkpoints at some beauty spots and parks around the country after crowds flocked to many public amenities during the good weather at the weekend despite the Level 5 lockdown restrictions.
Garda sources in Dublin said there appeared to be a noted increase in people socialising outdoors.
However, they said thousands of people lived within 5km of some of the busiest locations on Sunday and were permitted to exercise within that “5km-from-home zone” under restrictions currently in place to combat Covid-19.
The Office of Public Works reported Phoenix Park, Dublin, was “extremely busy” on Sunday with all car parks “near capacity” at about lunch time. Those who planned to visit the park were asked to “consider walking or cycling”.
After a Garda request, and in a bid to control numbers going to the park, the Chapelizod Gate was closed until 6pm.
Fingal County Council reported its parks were “extremely busy” on Sunday and urged people “not to drive to parks or beaches” more than 5km from home.
When the crowds began to build by late morning on Sunday, gardaí asked the council to close the car park at Newbridge Demesne in Donabate. The council closed the gates and did not allow any more vehicles inside, saying the car park would be closed until further notice.
Donabate beach was also very busy, as well as the nearby north Dublin beachside suburbs of Malahide and Portmarnock, where the car parks were congested.
Other locations such as Sandymount in south Dublin and Howth in north Dublin were also very busy with day-trippers.
In reply to queries Garda Headquarters at Phoenix Park said the Garda encouraged people to comply with Covid-19 regulations, including the requirement to stay at home except for essential journeys and to exercise within 5km from home.
“Gardaí can make recommendations to local authorities or park rangers in relation to traffic and crowd management,” it added of asking that some parks be closed when required during the pandemic.
“Ultimately the local authorities are the lead agencies regarding the management of public amenities and should be in a position to facilitate media queries on same.”