Irish police have established nationwide checkpoints as tourist towns warn people to not visit this holiday weekend.
People in Ireland are being warned to not travel to their holiday homes for the Easter weekend in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
On April 7, Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar urged people not to travel for the holiday weekend, which sees both Friday and Monday as bank holidays.
Please do not visit a holiday home or caravan park this Easter weekend. The spread of the virus is slowing but people travelling could give it a boost - spreading it and seeding it in areas unaffected so far. Stay at home and #FlattenTheCurve— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) April 7, 2020
Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan also said on April 7: “We urge the public, on this Easter holiday with sunshine and isolation fatigue, to stay the course and comply with the recommendations and measures in place. Stay at home and keep Ireland safe.”
On April 9, government officials in both Northern Ireland and the Republic came together to issue this joint message: "We urge everyone to continue to act in accordance with the public health guidance North and South, and to avoid non-essential travel this Easter. Help save lives. Stay at home this Easter.”
Currently, there is a “stay at home” order in Ireland in place until April 12, Easter Sunday. While government officials have yet to formally extend the order, many have hinted that restrictions will not be lifted on April 12.
The current restrictions in place mandate that people stay in their homes as much as possible. There are some exceptions, and people may exercise outside of their home but must remain in a 2km radius and adhere to social distancing rules.
People traveling to holiday homes in other parts of the country would not only be in breach of government restrictions but also pose a health risk.
An Garda Síochána launch massive operation
On April 8, Ireland’s police force An Garda Síochána announced the launch of Operation Fanacht, a nationwide operation aimed at preventing non-essential travel for the upcoming holiday Easter weekend.
Operation Fanacht has established thousands of checkpoints that are being monitored by more than 2,500 gardai at any one time. It will be in effect until late in the day on Monday, April 13.
Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said: "This significant Coronavirus live updates: confirmed cases on island of Ireland tops 8,000policing operation is designed to support travel restrictions put in place to help flatten the curve and save lives.
"There has been very good compliance with the travel restrictions and we want to thank the public for this. However, it is vital that this continues over the coming days and over the weekend. This will save lives.
"In particular, we would ask people who are thinking of travelling to parks, natural beauty spots or holiday homes outside of the 2km limit not to do so. We are sending them a clear message that if they are stopped at a checkpoint they will be turned back.”
The same goes for people who may be attempting to leave their holiday homes to return to their primary residence. Garda Commissioner Drew Harris told reporters on April 8: “The regulations make it clear that if you’re at your holiday home already now, you need to stay there. That is now your place of residence.
Harris added: “If you’re thinking of travelling there, don’t. A journey to a holiday home is not an essential journey, we will be able to turn you back. Stay put.”
Gardaí are asking the public to:— An Garda Síochána (@GardaTraffic) April 8, 2020
Please remember essential travel only this weekend.
Please keep to the 2km radius of your home for exercise
Do not travel to holiday homes and remember social distancing and hand washing.#StayAtHomeSaveLives #PhysicalDistancing pic.twitter.com/74iDEvJR65
Earlier this week, Ireland’s Minister for Health Simon Harris signed new regulations that grant Ireland’s police force more power to enforce people not abiding by the current restrictions that are in place. Failure to comply with restrictions could result in fines of up to €2,500 and up to six months in prison.
Tourist towns are closed
While gardai have mobilized, tourist towns are also raising their voices letting people know that their localities are shut to non-locals.
Richard Chambers from Virgin Media News shared this video of Michael Vaughan, a hotelier based in Lahinch, Co Clare, who said: "these aren't normal times, we're asking you to please help keep our village safe."
"We've seen a number of people with holiday homes quietly slip in...
"We'd love to see you when all of this is over. But for the moment, our town is closed."April 7, 2020
David Minogue of Wexford County Council issued similar remarks:
"Please, please do not visit Wexford for the foreseeable future... Think of your loved ones, older people Cocooning... Think how you can protect them.April 7, 2020
However, not everyone was so pleasant in their approach. Police are reportedly investigating after these notices were posted in the seaside town of Kilkee, Co Clare:
This notice was posted through the letter boxes of holiday homes in #Kilkee, Ireland. It’s generated a lot of negative controversy , but I have to applaud whoever was behind it...certainly no ambiguity here! #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/6tRKbRpSaO— Conor Daunt (@conordaunt) April 9, 2020
A local woman in South Co Kerry shared pictures of garda visiting a holiday home after it was reported that non-locals had arrived:
Garda has arrived pic.twitter.com/Ynl3fP3eZV— Ruth Brophy (@ruthwildebrophy) April 9, 2020
And on Twitter, one man plotted a decidedly Irish form of payback:
To the Belfast families that conveniently sneaked 4 cars across the border into their holiday homes next to our fields. We're spreading slurry in the morning and an overly generous amount will be left at the closest possible point to your home. Shoulda #StayedAtHome— Paul Friel (@friellyboy) April 8, 2020