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Stay away from beauty spots – garda chief’s plea

News

ATTRACTION Keel beach on Achill Island attracted crowds on Sunday.

Senior garda asks public to stay local in battle against Covid-19

Anton McNulty

A SENIOR Mayo garda has advised people not to travel to beauty spots around the county during the current coronavirus outbreak to avoid breaching social distancing guidelines.
A number of beauty spots around Mayo were thronged with day trippers on Sunday afternoon as people availed of the good weather to escape from their homes.
The volume of traffic to Keem Bay and Keel Beach on Achill Island was compared by locals to a bank holiday weekend while there were similar crowds of day-trippers at other beauty spots such as Downpatrick Head and at Moorehall near Ballintubber.
However, the influx of visitors to the rural community was not welcomed by many of the locals who felt the visitors were not adhering to social distancing guidelines and as a result were putting the health of the elderly local population at risk.
Superintendent Kevin Gately, who is in charge of Community Engagement in Mayo, said that while people have to get ‘out and about’ during the current crisis, they did not have to travel 30 miles to get fresh air.
“People have to get fresh air and go for a walk but stay local and not all converge around Lough Lannagh or travel 20 or 30 miles to an Achill beach or other beauty spots around the county. I would urge people to think first before putting their family in a car and go for a spin. Ask yourself are you going somewhere a large number of people will go and where you won’t comply with social distancing guidelines. If so then stay away and go for a walk along a local laneway. Do not go to beauty spots,” he told The Mayo News.

Change habits
Supt Gately said that by and large the public in Mayo were adhering to social distancing guidelines but asked young people in particular to change their habits when meeting with friends.
“We know that currently 43 percent of coronavirus cases in Ireland have been contracted through community transmissions so I would appeal to young people in particular to adhere to social distancing. Meeting their friends is what young people like to do but they have to keep their distance from each other. They have to think of what they might bring home and the harm they may cause to their parents and grandparents or vulnerable people.
“We all have to be responsible in our efforts and in this week of all weeks we cannot reinforce the message of social distancing enough. This week will be huge in terms of battling the coronavirus and that is why we have to make social distancing the norm,” he said.
Earlier this week Inishturk residents asked people not to visit the island to protect it from the threat of the coronavirus. There were also reports of a number people travelling to Mayo during the week to escape the cities to stay in holiday homes they own around the county. Supt Gately said people who are not from the area should stay in their own locality as local services may not be able to cope with the influx of numbers outside the holiday season. He added if they do arrive, they should self isolate and follow health guidelines and not be out and about and mingling with the population.

Social responsibility
Mayo County Council have also asked the community to take social separation responsibility and the key message was ‘Stay Safe - Stay Strong - Stay Separate’. The Council closed playgrounds throughout the county to protect against the spread of the virus and asked parents to adhere  to the closures.
“We ask that parents please, please adhere to the closure of the playgrounds and not to allow their children to play there. We also request that people refrain from removing the warning signage at the playground. The virus can live on surfaces for many days and we implore people to be mindful of this.
“Social distancing is the key and the next seven days are crucial for the fate of this county. We do not want to see convoys of trucks ferrying coffins for burial. Everyone can help – everyone should help – everyone must help to support frontline medical personnel. Follow the advice and keep your distance,” a spokesperson said.