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Gardaí ramp up patrols amid fears of uncontrolled bank holiday crowds

Half a million set to hit the road for sunny June long weekend

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Gardaí enforcing coronavirus restrictions move people on from St Stephen's Green, Dublin last Monday. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gardaí enforcing coronavirus restrictions move people on from St Stephen's Green, Dublin last Monday. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gardai enforcing coronavirus restrictons and move people on from St Stephen's Green, Dublin.

Gardai enforcing coronavirus restrictons and move people on from St Stephen's Green, Dublin.

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Gardaí enforcing coronavirus restrictions move people on from St Stephen's Green, Dublin last Monday. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Councils will closely liaise with gardaí over the June bank holiday weekend to avoid any repeat of the uncontrolled large outdoor gatherings seen in cities and towns across the country in recent times.

Gardaí will also undertake additional patrols in potential urban gathering spots to remind people of the Covid-19 restrictions still in force.

“A visible presence will be maintained in all areas required, in liaison with local authority officials,” a senior Garda source confirmed.

Both the Government and the HSE urged people to be responsible with their social activities over the weekend, given the ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus.

Virus detections are still considered relatively high despite the success of the vaccine roll-out programme.

Authorities have also moved to ensure facilities such as extra toilets and rubbish bins are in place for the large numbers expected in urban areas for the first holiday weekend since the lockdown ended, and with both hotels and shops back open.

Beaches and coastal resorts are also expecting their biggest numbers of the year to date, with Met Éireann predicting sunny spells interspersed with showers, and the best of the sunshine being forecast for tomorrow.

Dublin and Galway have implemented special crowd control measures in certain public spaces while Cork gardaí will monitor numbers using the city quays for picnics and social gatherings.

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The Port of Cork said ship berthing and equipment storage areas will be fenced off due to public safety concerns.

Both Dublin and Galway confirmed they will also provide additional temporary public toilets following complaints over recent weeks about a chronic lack of available facilities in the absence of access to pub and restaurant toilets.

Cork County Council said it will also provide additional temporary toilet facilities at popular beach resorts, with self-catering and caravan parks indicating that bookings are now running at almost 90pc in some areas.

Limerick will not restrict any public spaces this weekend despite concerns that the city has witnessed the highest rate of Covid-19 detections for any Irish urban centre since early February.

While outdoor dining will only resume from Monday, takeaways and cafés are expecting their busiest trading period of the year so far over the next 72 hours.

Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park, both critically dependent on revenue from ticket sales, are likewise expecting their best visitor numbers of 2021.

Fota has availability for morning visits but its afternoon slots after 3.30pm are booked for all three days.

An estimated 500,000 people are expected to travel this weekend to urban attractions, beaches, lakes and beauty spots.

Gardaí are warning that a bank holiday road safety campaign will be implemented, with an emphasis on speeding, while the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has urged motorists to be conscious of increased traffic levels since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

The RSA also appealed to motorists to be aware of the significant hike in the number of people walking and cycling on roads.

Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann said they expect to operate at 50pc available capacity over the weekend.

The only restrictions are in Dublin where track works will result in the Dart being closed between Bray and Greystones, with bus shuttle transfers available as an alternative.

Both Water Safety Ireland and the Coast Guard urged people to exercise care when swimming or engaging in water sports.

The ESB issued a special warning for people not to swim in reservoirs given the dangers posed.


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