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'This is not a holiday period - it's a national emergency'

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Improved weather: A mother and daughter adhere to social distancing guidelines as they push their prams in the open countryside in Connemara yesterday. Photo: Ray Ryan

Improved weather: A mother and daughter adhere to social distancing guidelines as they push their prams in the open countryside in Connemara yesterday. Photo: Ray Ryan

Improved weather: A mother and daughter adhere to social distancing guidelines as they push their prams in the open countryside in Connemara yesterday. Photo: Ray Ryan

Scenic coastal towns are urging people to stay home and not travel to their holiday homes or caravans during the current Covid-19 crisis.

It comes as outdoor revellers continued to ignore social distancing advice in many areas, which experts say is essential to halt the spread of Covid-19, and a period of fine weather has enhanced the problem.

Wicklow County Council was yesterday forced to close parking facilities at the popular walking trail in Glendalough.

A spokesperson said: "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."

Also in Wicklow, gardaí said that because of traffic volumes and "careless parking", access to the Sally Gap had to be restricted yesterday, with a number of cars being towed.

They said that emergency services needed access to busy uplands areas.

According to Met Éireann forecaster Paul Downes, the improvement in the weather will continue into this week.

"It's a sunny, bright start to the week, generally with good sunshine," he said. However, the fine weather is likely to see more people leave their homes for outdoor pursuits, but they are asked to continue to follow social distancing advice while doing so.

Some coastal areas are already reportedly feeling the strain of a deluge of visitors.

Donegal TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said families were being asked to remain in their "primary" home during the crisis, and to shop locally, and go for walks while maintaining social distancing.

"I have been inundated with complaints from across Donegal this weekend about large numbers of people travelling to holiday homes, caravan parks and the beaches from outside areas," he said.

"This is not a holiday period. This is a national emergency."

In Kilkee, Co Clare, Fianna Fáil councillor Cillian Murphy told the Irish Independent: "If you are looking to do contact tracing, it's not great to have people travelling in and out of the county for the weekend. It brings a whole layer of complexity into contact tracing.

"The message really is, for your sake and our sake, please stay in your own home."

Mr Murphy said that tourism was very important to the area, and everybody would be very welcome when this current emergency period is past.

But he said that if the population was doubled or tripled, then existing resources were going to be further stretched.

"We really have to start thinking about what an extra 2,000 or 3,000 into these communities actually means in terms of the resources a town can provide. It is an issue because in general they don't have the capacity to cope with these large increases in population for a sustained period."

Irish Independent