Gardaí have been given powers to arrest and detain members of the public who disregard the advice of the public health authorities during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Measures in place at present mean members of the public must stay at home, except to gather essential goods, to provide essential care, or to exercise within 2km of their home.
With the clement weather of the last few days set to continue into the Easter weekend, the Government have given Gardaí additional powers to arrest or detain individuals who might be travelling to holiday homes or caravan parks over the long weekend.
Those arrested could face a heavy fine of €2,500 or a jail sentence.
Cabinet members signed off on the measures on Tuesday, while Minister for Health, Simon Harris, along with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Attorney General, signed off on them later on in the day.
The measures will be in place for the next four days, in line with the current emergency measures lasting until Sunday, but Minister Harris said these measures are likely to be extended.
The Garda operation – Operation Fanacht – will see an extensive network of checkpoints established across the country.
The Operation will run from today at 12 noon until Monday night, April 13.
It will involve thousands of checkpoints every day. At any one time, there will be over 2,500 Gardaí involved in checkpoints or high visibility patrolling.
Speaking today, Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said, "This significant policing 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 operation will also see Gardaí conduct high visibility patrols at major tourist locations, parks and natural beauty spots to ensure compliance with travel restrictions.
Operation Fanacht will also enhance road safety.
"Unfortunately, despite the reduced traffic levels, there are still people putting their lives and the lives of others at risk by speeding, drink and drug driving, and not wearing their seat belt,” said Deputy Twomey.
For example, some speed detections in the last week include:
185kph in a 100kph zone on the N22, Cork
149kph in a 60kph zone on the R147, Meath
225kph in a 120kph zone on the M1, Dublin
159kph in a 80kph zone on the R420, Offaly
95kph in a 50kph zone on the N6, Galway
Speaking today, Mr. John Caulfield, Interim CEO, Road Safety Authority (RSA) said, "While the roads will have less traffic than normal over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend it doesn’t mean that there is no danger on the roads. People will be out exercising by going for a walk or cycle. So, I’m asking drivers to watch out for vulnerable road users and to slow down. Never has it been more important to practice good road safety habits because every crash and injury we prevent means we are putting less pressure on our first responders and health professions at a time of national crisis.”
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