Republic of Ireland news

Gardaí launch high-visibility campaign as tough coronavirus restrictions come into force

Gardaí are creating checkpoints as they look to ensure compliance with Covid-19 restrictions across the Republic
Michelle Devane, PA

Gardaí have started a major high visibility policing operation to coincide with the highest level of Covid-19 restrictions being introduced across the Republic.

Under the government's five-tiered framework for living with the virus, the country moved to Level 5 restrictions at midnight this morning for six weeks.

Gardaí said they were introducing a range of measures including high visibility patrols and rolling checkpoints on the country's main roads to coincide with the imposition of the new measures.

There will be over 2,500 gardaí on duty at any one time to ensure compliance with the public health guidelines.

The 132 static checkpoints on motorways introduced earlier this month will remain and will be supplemented by hundreds of rolling checkpoints on main and secondary roads.

Gardaí said there would also be patrols in parks, natural beauty spots, and public amenities.

They will also continue to assist vulnerable people, in particular those who are isolated and victims of domestic abuse.

Training in the Garda College will be suspended for the next nine weeks except for specialist training activity.

It will allow 200 Garda trainees and 60 gardai working as tutors and instructors to be transferred to front-line policing.

Where possible gardai in administrative roles will be re-deployed to operational duties.

The 12-hour contingency roster will be extended until the end of March 2021.

Commissioner Drew Harris said: "There was very good compliance by the public with the travel restrictions when they were in place before. It is vital that we see that high level of compliance again this time. The public health advice is clear. This will help save lives.

"In particular, we would ask people to think about their journeys and not exercise or travel outside the 5km limit unless it meets the essential criteria."

He added that gardaí were continuing with a graduated response of policing by consent.

"This is a difficult time for everybody, but if we all work together we can reduce the spread of Covid-19 and protect our families, friends and neighbours," the commissioner said.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said gardai had been helping vulnerable people and those who feel isolated throughout the pandemic and would continue to do so.

"Gardai have collected prescriptions, delivered pensions and had socially distanced contacts," he said.

"If people need such assistance or know someone who does, please contact your local garda station. We are here to help."

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