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80% fall in visitors to Coillte forests, as public told to avoid scenic sites outside their zone

Amenities could be closed to locals if guidelines breached.
Apr 9th 2020, 1:25 PM 13,033 16

COILLTE HAS REPORTED an 80% drop in visits to Irish forests since the movement restrictions were introduced by government.

Approximately 6,800 people visited 23 Coillte recreational forests between 28 March 3 April, compared to 36,250 recorded the previous week.

That is an overall reduction of in excess of 80% with Portumna forest park in Galway, the Devils Glen in Wicklow and Ards Forest Park in Donegal all seeing reductions in visitor numbers of 99%.

At the government’s morning Covid-19 briefing, assistant secretary general in the Department of Taoiseach Liz Canavan said “if an amenity is not within your 2km zone, you shouldn’t visit”.

“The car parks won’t be open. Where public health measures are not being complied with, it may result in the facility being closed for everyone, including those who do live within the 2km zone,” she said.

Gardaí have established fixed checkpoints across the country to discourage members of the public from travelling to their holiday homes for the Easter weekend. 

Cross border travel is also being restricted, with Canavan stating that “points of contact have been established to monitor cross border travel and to ensure that restrictions in this jurisdiction are adhered to”.

“Key locations of concern have been identified and the gardaí will follow their usual approach to engage, educate, encourage and enforce as a last resort,” she said, adding that there has been “excellent ongoing cooperation between An Garda Síochána and their colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland”.

The Government, on the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team, is expected to extend the existing restrictions on movement for a number of weeks over the coming days.

Lifting the restrictions on a phased-basis

However, work is underway to map out how the restrictions might be lifted, on a phased basis. 

Canavan said today the next phase will be how to manage matters when some of those restrictions begin to lift.

“I suppose at the beginning, we might have all thought that would happen in one go but we’re more clear now it’s going to happen in a much more phased way. So there’s ongoing work, and there are a number of subgroups looking at a range of issues,” she said.

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Christina Finn

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