garda warning | 

Gardaí urge public not to break 5km travel limit to travel to holiday homes over Easter break

Gardai say only necessary journeys should be undertaken this weekend.

A Garda Covid 19 checkpoint at Blackchurch on the N7 outbound from Dublin. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

Fiona Dillon and Allison Bray

People have been urged not break the 5km travel limit to travel to holiday homes to celebrate the Easter break.

Superintendent David Kelly, of Milford Garda station in Donegal, said only necessary journeys should be undertaken this weekend.

“Covid-19 is having a big impact on people’s lives. But we are asking people to stick with the public health advice, the vaccines are being rolled out now and we will see the benefit of it,” he said.

In relation to people visiting coastal regions like Donegal where they have holiday homes, he said: “This virus doesn’t respect boundaries. We would be asking people to stay within 5km of their own home address.”

He said he would ask people to take a common-sense approach if they have an issue in relation to their holiday home.

“I know from policing Donegal over the years, a lot of people who have holiday homes have very good relationships with people in the locality who look out for their houses anyway. I would ask for that sort of system that has worked in the past to be used again,” he said.

Dr Anthony Breslin, director of public health in the north-west said: "As cases of Covid decrease, it’s more important than ever that we all limit the number of contacts we have with others.

"We need to restrict our movements and we must remain vigilant to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We have seen some outbreaks following parties and this has to stop. The more risks people take and the more people they meet can have a really significant impact on the spread of Covid-19.

"This is particularly important if people socialise over the Easter break. If you take a risk today, tomorrow, or over the next few days, then you are taking that risk on behalf of anyone you see. Think about the impact that being diagnosed with Covid-19 would have on those close to you."

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Donegal County Council Mr John McLaughlin, also asked people not to visit other households this long weekend.

"Easter is traditionally a time of celebration, for gathering together to enjoy the company of family and loved ones, but we must refrain from doing so this year to preserve the progress we have made over the past number of months,” he said.

"This is such a difficult thing to do, we have all become weary of the impact of restrictions on our lives, but we must continue to protect our vulnerable, our front-line workers and one another.

"This bank holiday weekend, remember public health advice, together our actions will curb the spread of Covid 19.”

Dr Emer Shelley, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health for the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland said: “The last thing the country needs right now is for families to be mixing,.

“It’s really undesirable.”

“With around 600 new cases popping up no county can assume it’s safe.”

And despite the best intentions to have just immediate family, like parents or siblings, over for a meal or a drink, the virus doesn’t differentiate between those nearest and dearest to us and total strangers, she added.

“Cases arose in very innocent circumstances,” she said, citing a recent example of seeing a group of children all seated together on a blanket in the park with their mothers huddled next to one another drinking takeaway coffees who could well be spreading the virus amongst themselves.

“There were a dozen three or four years on a rug with the mums standing around with coffees,” she said.

“It’s just not wise.”

And even if someone appears to be healthy, it still doesn’t mean that don’t have the virus and can pass it on to others, she added.

“Because most cases are asymptomatic, you just don’t know if someone has picked it up,” she said.

“Playdates, all of that extra contact all adds up to extra risk. Even though being outdoors is less risky, it’s still a risk.”

And while two households can meet up outdoors for exercise under the current restrictions, it doesn’t mean that they should be socialising, she said.

“It doesn’t mean standing around on the street chatting. That gives the impression to everyone that it’s okay.

“When children are flying around on scooters they’re low risk. But for the adults standing around chatting to each other with no mask, anything other than just saying ‘hello’ is not a good idea.”

And while she acknowledged that everyone is fed up with the restrictions and are itching to get out and meet friends and family, she said now is not the time to let down our guard.

“It’s just not safe at this stage. We can still enjoy a few days off this Easter. But in the interests of the wellbeing for the entire country, it just makes sense to be patient. If we can just batten down the hatches for the next couple of weeks.”

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