Level 3 restrictions see traffic fall by 17.5 per cent last week, gardaí say

Operation Fanacht sees private car volumes down to just 70 per cent of normal

The introduction of Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions last week has seen a drop of 17.5 per cent in traffic volumes across the State, according to the Garda.

Operation Fanacht began on Monday, October 7th with a high level Garda presence on roads which saw long tailbacks in and out of major towns.

An Garda Síochána was criticised for what was perceived as a heavy-handed approach to Level 3 restrictions which recommended that people do not leave their county of residence except for essential journeys.

There has been a notable drop in private cars on the roads since the introduction of Level 3 restrictions in Dublin on September 19th, and nationwide restrictions on October 7th.

The current data from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) shows that private car volumes on national roads are now below 70 per cent of pre-Covid levels. This compares with over 85 per cent prior to the introduction of Level 3 restrictions in Dublin.

Weekend traffic volumes were also significantly down between the weekends of October 3rd and 4th and the weekend of October 10th and 11th.

Traffic dropped by an average of 20 per cent last weekend on the M6, M7, N7, M8 and M9 roads which are some of the busiest in the country.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey acknowledged that the checkpoints under Operation Fanacht had created disruption for motorists, but were necessary to ensure that Covid-19 does not spread further.

"The public health advice is clear and its importance was reiterated again in recent days by the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan - people need to stay within their county and work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person," he said.

“We also continue to have a significant focus on community support and helping to protect the most vulnerable.

“Covid-19 remains a real threat to all of us and in particular to our most vulnerable citizens. This is a critical time for the country and we all have a responsibility to comply with the public health guidelines and regulations for the good of society.

“We would once again ask people not to travel outside of their county unless it is for essential purposes. This is a public health regulation under Level 3 and it is An Garda Síochána’s function to check compliance with this as part of Governmental and societal efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“Fewer journeys means people having fewer interactions which reduces the chances for Covid-19 to spread. That is the strong advice from the public health professionals.”

Under Operation Fanacht, An Garda Síochána established a network of 132 large-scale checkpoints on main arterial routes.

Gardaí carried out hundreds of additional mobile checkpoints in town and villages across the country over the last two days.

These checkpoints are in place to support the public health guidelines in relation to travel restrictions.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times