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Wicklow councillor asks people to stay away as 170 fined for breaking 5km restrictions

All those caught in Wicklow were fined €100 each - which means gardaí gave out €17,000 in fines this weekend in one county alone.

Photo credit: Garda Facebook

Brendan Fernando Kelly Palenque

Over 100 people in Wicklow were fined for breaking 5km Covid-19 travel restrictions this weekend, leading one councillor to appeal to people to stay home.

In total, 170 people were fined for travelling to Wicklow, which is almost triple the number of fines that were handed out nationwide up to Thursday.

Last Monday, new Garda powers were put in place, and checkpoints were re-established across the country. All those caught in Wicklow were fined €100 each - which means gardaí gave out €17,000 in fines this weekend in one county alone.

Local Wicklow councillor Irene Winters asked people to please stay at home as a result.

“But from everything I’m hearing from people that were [there], it was exceptionally busy,” she said on Newstalk Breakfast today.

The Fine Gael councillor went on to say that she looks forward to people returning to visit Wicklow, but only when it’s safe to do so.

“I get it. It's a nice day and you're children aren't going to soccer, they're not going to rugby, they're not going to GAA - any of the things you did - and you think: ‘we'll go up to the Wicklow hills and we'll go for a walk’,” she said.

“Maybe they didn't realise the fines were coming in, but what shocked me the most was €100 fines because really the police here normally turn everybody back and just say: ‘Look, you're on a warning - go home’.”

“How did 100 people get fined? What did they do that they got fined?”

Current restrictions mean that people should only leave their house for essential reasons, such as shopping for food or travelling to work. People are also permitted to go outside to exercise, but they must remain within a 5km limit of their household when doing so.

There is no travel limit on any other activity - but again it must be for an essential reason.

Ms Winters recognised why many people may come to Wicklow, saying: “Wicklow is absolutely fantastic. We have mountains, we have scenery, we have the beach, we have forests - everything.”

“But you can't use it at the moment, and we would be delighted to have everybody in Wicklow once the travel restrictions are over and the pandemic is under some sort of control.”

She once again emphasised the importance of staying home.

“At the moment stay within your 5km,” she said. “The only way that we will be able to get back to any sort of normality, and get kids back to school, and get us all doing the things that we use to do is if everybody really, really complies for the next few weeks.”

“Stay away, stay home.”

Currently, Wicklow has one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 in Ireland with only 1,166 cases and the third lowest incidence rate after Westmeath and Leitrim.

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