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Record number of checkpoints planned for warm weekend

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A garda Covid-19 checkpoint

A garda Covid-19 checkpoint

A garda Covid-19 checkpoint

The bank holiday weekend will deliver ideal weather for back garden barbecues as gardai warned people not to set off on non-essential journeys to coastal areas or beauty spots.

It came as gardai confirmed a record number of static and mobile checkpoints will be mounted over the next four days to ensure compliance with virus travel restrictions.

A number of local authorities, concerned at a possible influx of holidaymakers flouting the rules, will use drone technology to monitor coastal towns and holiday areas.

Gardai have received reports from residents in Kerry, Clare, Cork, Waterford, Wexford and Galway concerned at people ignoring travel controls to spend the weekend away from home.

They warned that anyone found breaching travel restrictions could face fines or prosecution.

"We have had incredible compliance with the government and HSE guidelines since this pandemic began," a garda source said.

"However, a small number of people have chosen to ignore the travel and social distancing controls and have already either faced warnings or court proceedings.

"This weekend, there will be a large number of checkpoints as part of Operation Fanacht.

"We would urge people to comply with the guidelines and only undertake necessary journeys. Those who do not comply with the guidelines will be detected and will risk serious penalties."

Rescued

The RNLI and the Coast Guard also pleaded for people to comply with restrictions and refrain from using the sea or waterways for exercise or recreation to minimise the coronavirus risk to emergency personnel.

It came as two kayakers had to be rescued off the coast of Dalkey yesterday.

"We would ask those wanting to exercise in the water to consider the potential impact on RNLI volunteers and other emergency services if they get into difficulty or if their presence would encourage others to join them," RNLI safety director Kevin Rahill said.

"We would like to thank everyone who has heeded our message and stayed away.

"We know it's difficult when you may have been a regular water user, and we are looking forward to seeing people visiting the coast and taking to the water when it's safe to do so and the restrictions have been lifted."

Coast Guard official Gerard O'Flynn urged people to abide by the measures that have brought the pandemic under control.

"Now is not the time to become complacent, so please stay at home," he said.