THERE are fears this week that garda warnings against travelling to West Cork were falling on deaf ears, as many local towns and villages were already reporting an upsurge in visitors ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend.
Gardaí issued a warning that anyone travelling to a holiday home here would be asked to turn around and go back home. But some locals say the warning has come too late – and that many holiday homeowners from Dublin – the area most hard-hit by Covid-19 area – are already here.
The stark warning comes amid fears that droves of people will decamp this weekend to their holiday homes in areas like Schull, Baltimore, Courtmacsherry and Beara, despite the strict travel guidelines.
Chief Supt Con Cadogan of the Cork West Division said there will be additional checkpoints on the main motorways, and routes coming from Cork city, as well as roads across West Cork as part of Operation Fanacht, which will focus on ensuring compliance with travel restrictions.
‘People shouldn’t be offended if they are turned back at these checkpoints,’ he said.
‘We will be very active over this weekend and will be operating both day time and night time checkpoints and checking that people are abiding by the 2km travel rule.’
Gardaí now have additional powers to issue fines of up to €2,000, and make arrests following the signing of regulations earlier this week by Minister Simon Harris.
Cork footballer Brian Hurley from Union Hall tweeted how his mother works in a local shop and delivers food to the elderly in the countryside: ‘Over the past two days the community is worried with the big increase in holiday makers coming down with the fine weather.’
Dr Fiona Kelly in Castletownbere said she is very disappointed to have already seen tourists along the Beara peninsula, with a lot of camper vans and UK-registered cars spotted in Allihies in particular.
Dr Kelly said:‘I’m very disappointed that these people are putting our communities at risk. A lot of patients who are asymptomatic can still have the virus and it’s very unfair.’
Irish Ferries and Stena Line are still operating their routes between Ireland and the UK.
Up to Wednesday of this week there were 235 Covid-19-related deaths in Ireland. Of the 5,981 cases, Dublin had the highest number of cases at 3,268, (55%) followed by Cork with 431 cases (7%).
Cork County Council has, following consultation with gardaí, closed access to the public car parks of most local beaches, and gardaí will also be manning patrols in these areas to ensure compliance. They are: Fountainstown, Garrylucas, Barleycove, Garnish, Tragumna, Lough Hyne, The Warren, Inchydoney (lower car park), Ownahincha and Long Strand.