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Thousands 'put lives at risk' as they gather in Glendalough

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Thousands flocked to Glendalough over the weekend

Thousands flocked to Glendalough over the weekend

Thousands flocked to Glendalough over the weekend

Despite continuous warnings about the importance of social distancing, thousands of people "put lives at risk" by travelling to Glendalough in Co Wicklow over the weekend.

As enormous efforts are being made to stem the tide of coronavirus infections, some people are still not taking the Government's advice seriously.

The weekend's sunshine saw thousands of people flock to Glendalough, creating major congestion leading up to the popular hotspot.

Pictures flooded social media showing people in close proximity to one another at food stalls.

This prompted Wicklow County Council to close Glendalough car parks and facilities until further notice.

"Wicklow County Council wishes to advise members of the public that the Upper Car Park at Glendalough is closed, including the food franchises at this location, until further notice," a council spokesperson said.

"The council has taken this decision due to concerns regarding social distancing requirements.

"We regret the inconvenience caused and would ask members of the public to observe HSE guidelines as regards social distancing."

Wicklow councillor Gail Dunne told the Herald that the large gathering had created a great deal of concern.

"The locals are up in arms over this," he said. "I've received a surge of calls from elderly people who are extremely concerned.

"The thousands of people who came out to Glendalough over the weekend potentially put lives at risk.

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People keep their distance in Merrion Square

People keep their distance in Merrion Square

People keep their distance in Merrion Square

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"Thankfully, the council closed the car parks, because we have to take very strict measures if we want to stop this virus from getting worse."

Local councillor Irene Winters believes the majority of people who travelled to the popular walking trail did not realise how busy it would be.

"I'm glad the council acted when they did, because we couldn't take another day of this mass gathering," she said.

"If there was an accident, emergency vehicles wouldn't have been able to pass through due to the volume of traffic.

"It's good that people are getting out into the fresh air, but my advice would be to do it in your own locality."

Wicklow gardai also closed both sides of the Sally Gap yesterday due to "the sheer volume of traffic in the area".

Powerscourt and Enniskerry also experienced "extremely heavy" traffic.

"Please remember to practise social distancing when out and about today and avoid locations that may attract large groups of people," An Garda Siochana said on Twitter.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said it had seen a large increase in people using parks.

"To this end, the NPWS is encouraging small walking groups - with a distance of approximately two metres between individuals - to avail of the numerous walks within the parks and reserves," it said.

"The NPWS asks individuals to avoid congregating closely in large groups, even in these outdoor areas."

Meanwhile, the sunny weather is expected to continue to improve this week and could see more people out and about.

According to Met Eireann's Paul Downes, this improvement in the weather will continue into the early parts of the week.

"It's a sunny, bright start to the week, generally with good sunshine," he said.

The fine weather will likely see more people leave their homes for outdoor pursuits, but they are asked to continue to follow social distancing advice.

Speaking on RTE News, chief clinical officer for the HSE Colm Henry said it is the responsibility of those engaging in outdoor activities to ensure they maintain their distance.

"Further measures are possible, but over the next seven or 10 days, we are seeing the impact of the current measures and much of that relies on how well people comply," he said.

"We've seen how stringent measures are in Italy, where there is widespread, uncontrolled transmission of the virus in the population.

"When it gets to that stage - widespread community transmission - we move into a different phase called a mitigation phase, where we try to protect the most vulnerable.

"To avoid that is still in our control. It is still possible that we can mitigate the effect of the worst-case scenario, which we have seen in Italy."