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Cars on the road in Wicklow yesterday.
Cars on the road in Wicklow yesterday.
Image: Garda Síochána Wicklow

Gardaí can now issue €100 on-the-spot fines to those breaching Covid laws

A rescue spokesperson said it is “impossible to socially distance while carrying a stretcher”.
Jan 11th 2021, 9:57 AM 92,709 128

Updated Jan 11th 2021, 7:56 PM

GARDAÍ HAVE TODAY warned the public that officers can now issue €100 on-the-spot fines to those breaching Covid laws. 

Under the Health Act, the law states “an applicable person shall not leave his or her place of residence without reasonable excuse”.

Exercising within your 5kn zone and going shopping for food and other essential items are deemed a reasonable excuse. 

From today, where breaches of the travel regulations are detected and a person does not comply with a direction of gardaí, officers can now issue a €100 Fixed Charge Notice. 

Where more appropriate, gardaí said they may seek a direction from the DPP.

 Speaking today Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, Policing and Security said, ”An Garda Síochána continues to see significant compliance by the public with Public Health Regulations, however we also continue to see some activity which is in contravention of these regulations introduced to stop the current spread of Covid-19 and protect our communities. 

“I appeal to every person without a reasonable excuse for travel – stay at home, this is your duty as a citizen and will save lives and support our front line services, nurses, doctors, hospital staff and my Garda colleagues at this time.”

Wicklow warning

Meanwhile, people have been told to reconsider travelling to the Wicklow uplands partly due to the Covid-19 risk of a rescue situation.

A spokesperson for the Dublin and Wicklow Mountain Rescue team, Valerie Hayes, said social distancing is difficult during emergency rescues. 

“We would ask people to seriously reconsider going into the mountains at this time,” Hayes said on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland. 

“It’s very difficult for us to safely operate with Covid to safely rescue someone. It’s impossible to socially distance while carrying a stretcher.

“You might be walking within your 5k [radius from your home] and you’re socially distanced, or you’re traveling or walking just with your family members, but if you get injured, all of a sudden you’re in very close contact to at least 12 people. 12 new people.

So that’s putting you at risk, it’s putting us at risk. Our team is made up entirely of volunteers. A lot of us are also healthcare workers and it’s bringing extra risk then back into the healthcare settings when we’ve been exposed to so many new close contacts.

She said a call out at the weekend which would usually take 15 minutes to reach took rescuers 45 minutes to gain access. 

She said this is due in part to “a lot of people parking in front of gates”. 

Hayes said rescuers have keys for the gates which allows them “to get equipment closer to the injured party faster”. 

“It cuts off kilometers of carrying equipment up and carrying a stretcher back down off the mountain,” she said. 

“So we would ask people to please not park in front of barriers and make sure that the road isn’t reduced to one lane of traffic all the way into the mountains, because it really slows down our access to the mountains.”

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She said rescuers are seeing more people visit the mountains than could live within a 5km radius of the area. 

The surrounding areas are not densely populated, she said, so “there really shouldn’t be that many people hiking in them”. 

Gardaí in Wicklow were in the upland areas over the weekend to control traffic volumes. 

“Emergency vehicles would not have been able to access several areas yesterday due to obstruction caused by illegally parked cars. Several cars were towed and two tow trucks have been deployed today to assist,” Wicklow gardaí said on Facebook. 

Last week, gardaí further told people to “please stay out of the uplands”. 

“It is dangerous at present due to conditions and you are risking exposing the emergency services to unnecessary risk if we have to come to your assistance. This is aside from any breaches of Covid regulations,” Wicklow gardaí said.

This is due to icy weather conditions last week with temperatures often reaching below zero degrees.

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee

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