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'Strong measures' warning as gardai plan spot checks

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Gardai on patrol in Temple Bar last night.

Gardai on patrol in Temple Bar last night.

Gardai on patrol in Temple Bar last night.

Gardai are conducting spot checks on pubs and restaurants this weekend to ensure they are complying with public health guidelines.

In a statement issued after a Cabinet subcommittee on the Covid-19 emergency last night, the Government said "strong enforcement measures" will be taken against businesses failing to comply with the health rules.

The committee "expressed concerns" that pubs operating as restaurants were not adhering to Covid-19 guidelines.

"The Government will review a report on compliance from the relevant State authorities, including An Garda Siochana, the public health, and health and safety authorities, at its meeting on Monday," it said.

"Strong enforcement measures will be taken against premises that are not operating in accordance with public health guidelines.

"Beginning this weekend, An Garda Siochana will conduct checks of licensed premises nationwide in relation to adherence to the public health guidelines."

Officers began carrying out the searches under Operation Navigation yesterday evening.

Deputy Garda Commissioner for Policing and Security John Twomey said the initiative comes as some publicans and customers seem to be ignoring the regulations.

Expanding

"When licensed premises were initially shut under the public health guidelines An Garda Siochana checked thousands of licensed premises to ensure they remained closed, which the vast, vast majority did," he said.

"Our intention in this latest phase was to conduct a large number of spot checks of licensed premises.

"However, it now appears that just a few days after their introduction, some licensed premises and their customers are ignoring the public health guidelines.

"By doing so, they are putting themselves and everyone they then come into contact with at risk of getting Covid-19. This is not acceptable and we are now expanding our planned checks."

The move comes as parents were being urged to implore their teenage and older children not to host or attend so-called 'Longitude parties' this weekend to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19.

The cancellation of the annual music festival that would normally take place this weekend at Dublin's Marlay Park has led to concerns by Drinkaware that many young people plan to host their own house parties as an alternative.

"As we're hearing about potential 'Longitude house parties' taking place this weekend, we urge parents to stay vigilant and if they hear about an event, to caution against attending and share the information with other parents so they can make informed decisions," said Drinkaware chief executive Sheena Horgan.

Waterford councillor Donal Barry, who spoke out last weekend after he saw more than 60 young people emerge from a house party in the town, said young people are not entitled to flout the guidelines.

Mr Barry said there is absolutely no excuse for anyone - let alone young people - to host or attend large house parties as the pandemic continues to rage globally.