Traffic levels have dropped as sharply in Kerry as in the rest of the country as gardaí continue to police non-essential intercounty travel under Operation Fanacht.
Now, gardaí are stepping up an even tighter control ofthe roads network as we revert to lockdown from midnight on Wednesday.
Traffic reduced by an average of 15 per cent following the launch of the Operation, with private car volumes on national roads now below 70 per cent of pre-Covid levels.
The trend took sharp effect in Kerry last week as the surge in secondwave Covid cases focused public behaviour in a way not seen since the country went into lockdown in March.
Gardaí in North Kerry – who have mounted checkpoints on the national road network at the county bounds outside Tarbert and Knocknagoshel, as well as on regional intercounty routes – report good compliance with the Level Three restrictions under which Fanacht was launched.
The campaign is very much centred on protecting the most vulnerable members of society from the virus, Deputy Commissioner John Twomey explained as he appealed to people to not make any non-essential journeys out of their home counties.
“Covid-19 remains a real threat to all of us and in particular to our most vulnerable citizens. This is a critical time for the country and we all have a responsibility to comply with the public health guidelines and regulations for the good of society.
“We would once again ask people not to travel outside of their county unless it is for essential purposes. This is a public health regulation under Level 3 and it is An Garda Síochána’s function to check compliance with this as part of Governmental and societal efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“So far, we have seen a drop in traffic volumes on main roads. It appears that people are reducing their journeys in line with the public health advice and we thank them for that. However, this needs to be maintained.
“Fewer journeys means people having fewer interactions which reduces the chances for COVID-19 to spread. That is the strong advice from the public health professionals. As we said before we introduced Operation Fanacht, we appreciate that this level of checkpoints may result in delays and difficulties for people. We thank people for their patience.”
Assistant Commissioner for the Southern Region, Michael Finn said the gardaí were to have even increased checks under level three – ever before level five was announced.
“As level 3 restrictions are still in place in the Garda Southern Region, we will not only continue our Operation Fanacht checkpoints, but we will be increasing them and conducting checkpoints on secondary roads as well as primary.
We understand that it can be frustrating to be delayed at these checkpoints, but we are trying to save lives. It is not our intention to delay you.”
“Please stay within your county. Ask yourself, is my journey essential? You are also being asked not to visit other people’s homes or allow others into yours.
“We all need to do our part in this.
“I want to also assure the public that whilst we are increasing our checkpoints, normal policing still resumes.
“Our units will be out there patrolling and helping where needed. If you need help, don’t think twice about calling us,” he said.