*FILE PHOTO. Photograph: Martin Connolly
Essential workers have been advised to carry ID with them at all times with fines and prosecutions on the way for anyone guilty of breaking the serious COVID-19 restrictions in place since midnight.
Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris in a press briefing on Saturday morning confirmed that regulations would be outlined in the coming days and also gave an indication as to the questions Gardaí would be posing to the public.
People will be asked by Gardaí if they are on an essential trip, where the location of their home is if they are out exercising. “We will be asking people, informing them and reminding them of what the regulations are,” Harris stated. “The sanctions will be set out in the regulations. And they will follow through then in terms of reinforcement and putting people through for prosecution.”
“We still be stopping individuals, asking them if their journey is essential. If an essential worker has got their ID and some form of description of what their work is, we can examine that at the roadside and that will be fine.”
Harris encouraged individuals to report anyone breaking regulations to their nearest Garda station. “There is people in our society who will often make poor choices, and there is a whole array of power for the Gardai to deal with individuals who will not be found wanting. We will soon be in a position to enforce those regulations but in the mean time we are taken a gradual response and engaging in people, persuading them to avail of the guidelines issued by the HSE.”
Over 2,500 Gardaí are on duty across the country with their main focus to ensure people are not panic buying. Already today, huge queues have been visible outside Dunnes Stores in Ennis since 08:30am. “There is a strong presence on making sure there’s no panic buying in supermarkets this morning. You can go to the shops that is an essential journey.
“Really we are providing reassurance but also providing other functions such as the protection of crime while also making sure that people can travel on the road safely while keeping road collisions down as well”.
High visibility Garda patrols are in operation all weekend since 7pm on Friday to 7am on Monday morning to guarantee no gathering are being held. Thousands of Gardaí will be out on foot by bike and in cars, ramped up policing is to be expected in the coming weeks to police the Covid-19 measures announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (FG) on Saturday.
Deputy Commissioner of Policing and Security, John Twomey commented, “These high visibility patrols are to provide re-assurance and social distancing advice to the public. Garda members will pro-actively engage positively with people. An Garda Síochána will police as it has always done with the consent of the people. It is in everybody’s interest that people comply with these measures.”