'No enforcement element' as part of large regional lockdown of three counties
Despite claims on Friday by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly that statutory powers would be introduced as part of the lockdown of Offaly, Laois and Kildare, Gardai have confirmed that there is 'no enforcement element' as part of the new Operation Fanacht.
Gardai say they will continue to use this approach of the three E’s which has seen Gardaí engage, educate and encourage people to comply with regulations.
A large, regional lockdown was introduced for the three counties as of midnight on Saturday due to a large number of cases, mainly due to serious outbreaks in meat factories in Kildare and a smaller outbreak in a facility in Tullamore.
Parts of South Offaly are over 100 kilometres away from the serious outbreaks but are also locked down as the decision was taken to lock down entire counties instead of more localised restrictions in the vicinity of the seriously affected factories in Kildare.
Enfiled in Meath, a county which saw a spike in cases yesterday, is only 13 kilometres from one of the most serious outbreaks but remains open for business.
An Garda Síochána have recommenced Operation Fanacht as a large, regional policing operation in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, focused on supporting public compliance with public health measures that are being implemented in these areas.
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The recommencement of Operation Fanacht in these three counties will take place in conjunction with Operation Navigation at a national level.
There will be a high level of visibility of An Garda Síochána members in Kildare, Laois, Offaly and surrounding counties, as well as checkpoints and permanent presence on relevant motorways and associated off ramps. Existing Garda resources in these counties will be supplemented by Garda personnel from the nine surrounding counties.
Speaking yesterday, Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said, "Throughout the country, it is vital that people adhere to the public health regulations in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This operation is designed to support the restrictions that are being implemented locally in these three counties in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is vital that we continue to work to minimise the risk to ourselves, our families and our local communities. We would appeal to all those living in these counties to stay and home and not undertake unnecessary journeys in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19."
In a statement to the Offaly Express, the Department of Health stated, "An Garda Síochana will engage in high visibility policing across the midlands and will continue to follow a community policing approach that will see them engage, educate and encourage to facilitate compliance on the part of the public.
"The decision to introduce additional public health measures in Kildare, Laois and Offaly was based on the current epidemiological situation in those counties. As outlined at the press conference last night, the 14-day incidents per 100,000 population in Offaly 81 per 100,000. The equivalent incidence rate in Meath is currently 7.3. It is important to note that the incidence rate is based on the county of residence of the person, as opposed to their employment location.
"The NPHET continues to advise everyone, regardless of their location, to continue to take every precaution possible to control the spread of COVID-19. This means continuing to practice safe behaviours, such as washing our hands, keeping two metres apart, avoiding crowds, wearing face coverings where appropriate and downloading the COVID tracker app."