Irish police set up nationwide traffic checkpoints on Wednesday, armed with new powers to enforce a lockdown designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Emergency legislation passed in the Irish parliament two weeks ago allows the government to curb non-essential travel during the crisis.
People violating the ban risk a fine of up to 2,500 euros ($2,700) and/or six months in prison.
‘The regulations now are in effect,’ Garda — Irish police — commissioner Drew Harris said at a press conference.
‘People only should be moving if they have an essential reason to move throughout country. What we’ll be doing is making sure that movement is essential.’
Over 2,500 officers will be involved in the operation at any one time as it runs from noon Wednesday until midnight on Sunday, with an extension possible.
‘It will involve thousands of checkpoints every day,’ police said in a statement.
The roadblocks have been put in place ahead of Easter holidays, traditionally used as an occasion for travel in Ireland.
Harris said nationwide compliance with the ban on movement — which allows for exercise within two kilometres of home — had been strong.
But there is a ‘small minority and perhaps... an increasing number’ in breach of the government order.
There have been 210 COVID-19 related deaths and 5,709 confirmed cases of the virus in Ireland according to health department figures released Tuesday.
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