Penalties issued to trio who drove 80km for burgers, say gardaí

Among the 29 Fixed Payment Notices (FPNs) issued for breaches of Covid-19 travel restrictions this week were those to three people who drove 80km for takeaway burgers.

Gardaí have said today that officer will continue to operate a significant number of static and mobile checkpoints, as well as conduct high visibility patrolling, this weekend focused on non-essential travel.

Last week An Garda Síochána put in place static checkpoints on national routes under Operation Fanacht. These were in addition to local mobile checkpoints introduced the week previously. The checkpoints are designed to support the Stay Home/Stay Safe message.

An Garda Síochána has also been operating high visibility patrols of key locations such as public amenities, scenic areas and parks.

The public are reminded that the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No.10) Regulations 2020, as amended are currently in force. Regulation 4 states, inter alia, ‘an applicable person shall not leave his or her place of residence without reasonable excuse’. This is a Penal Regulation and is enforceable.

While it is as important as ever for members of the public to avail of exercise and get fresh air, in accordance with Public Health Regulations, exercise can only be availed of ‘within a 5 kilometre radius of the person’s place of residence’.

If public amenities are crowded, public health advice is to avoid crowded areas.

As it did last week, An Garda Síochána is advising the public that they are at risk of their cars being towed away and impounded if they park illegally at such amenities because it can hinder access by emergency services.

For example, last weekend Wicklow Gardaí issued in excess of 50 Fixed Charge Notices (FCNs) for illegal parking and dangerous parking near amenities in the area. This was in addition to towing a number of vehicles, which obstructed emergency vehicle access.

Wicklow Gardaí had put in place additional checkpoints and engaged with a significant number of persons who following engagement subsequently complied with current Covid-19 Public Health regulations.

Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey, said: “Our health service is under pressure. Deaths from Covid-19 are rising. ICU admissions are increasing. The best way for people to protect and honour front-line workers is to stay at home. The best way for people to protect their loved ones, their neighbours, and their communities is to stay at home.”

“Please only make essential journeys. Exercise within 5km of your home. Minimise the amount of people you meet. Wear a face mask. Maintain social distancing. Wash your hands. If you visit somewhere to exercise and it is crowded then leave. This will all help reduce the spread of Covid-19 and protect lives,” added Deputy Twomey.

Fixed Payment Notices (FPN) for Travel Breaches

Since Monday (11 January 2021) members of An Garda Síochána can prosecute breaches of Travel Restrictions under Covid-19 Regulations by means of a €100 Fixed Payment Notice.

From Monday 11 to Wednesday 13 January 2021, 29 FPNs were issued.

A further 8 FPNs issued in respect of previous alleged breaches from Friday 1 January to Monday 10 January 2021.

Some examples of breaches leading to FPNs in the last few days:

• Checkpoint at Sean Moore Road, Ringsend. Driver of vehicle stated that he and two passengers travelled from County Meath to collect ‘burgers’ from a takeaway restaurant in Dublin 4 having travelled approximately 80km from home. All three occupants of car received a FPN.

• Checkpoint in Middleton. Female driver was requested to return home. Subsequently the driver was observed at a beach amenity outside the 5km limit. Driver acknowledged she was breaching Covid regulations and offered no further reasonable excuse.

• Two cyclists stopped near Carrick, Galway, not from same household, no social distancing, or face coverings, 19km from home and in another county. Claimed reasonable excuse of physical exercise, but were outside 5km applicable limit.

• North County Dublin – four persons observed leaving rear of gym. Further examination included speaking with two gym instructors who claimed to be working from the gym as no internet at home to conduct online sessions – 6 FPNs issuing.

• Waterford city – male stopped walking on the street, said he had been out for food and then to see friends on the other side of the city – no reasonable excuse.

• Checkpoint outside Cork City – male and female not from same household stopped while driving and claimed to be travelling to visit elderly relative. On completion of checkpoint a few minutes later, Gardaí patrolled local amenity car park and found the same driver. He had not travelled to visit elderly relative, had no reasonable excuse and was outside 5km limit for physical exercise. Both car occupants issued FPNs.

An Garda Síochána has been consistent in our graduated policing response to supporting Public Health Regulations and guidelines in line with our tradition of policing by consent. This has seen Gardaí engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.

Where breaches of the travel regulations are detected and a person does not comply with a direction of An Garda Síochána, a prosecution can be commenced by means of a €100 Fixed Payment Notice. Where more appropriate, An Garda Síochána may seek a direction from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Additional, ongoing Covid-19 Operations

An Garda Síochána will continue to investigate any alleged breaches of Public Health regulations under Operation Navigation (Licensed Premises) and Operation Treoraim (Non Essential Retail). Where members of the public are concerned about these activities they can contact their local Garda station.

An Garda Síochána understands that the move to increased restrictions will increase the anxiety and fear felt by those who may be victims of domestic abuse. An Garda Síochána is here to help. Victims of domestic abuse incidents, including coercive control, will continue to receive highest priority response for service under Operation Faoiseamh.

Travel restrictions DO NOT APPLY in the case of domestic violence or to escape a risk of harm, whether to the person or to another person.

If you are a victim of abuse or you know of a family member or friend who is a victim of such abuse, that information is important to us and we ask that you make contact with An Garda Síochána. If you require urgent assistance or support, please call 999 or 112, we are there to listen to help and to protect.

If you are unable to make phone contact please approach any member of An Garda Síochána on duty, on patrol, on a checkpoint and look for assistance, we are here to help.

HereToHelp

This is a difficult time for people, particularly those who feel vulnerable or isolated. An Garda Síochána continues to be here to help. Gardaí around the country have been helping people with everyday tasks like collecting prescriptions and doing shopping, and are also available to stop by for a socially distanced chat. If you need help or know someone who does, please contact your local Garda station.”

Data on recent enforcement activity for each of the relevant areas can be found on the Garda website here

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