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PSNI to issue on-the-spot fines to people breaking Easter holiday coronavirus rules

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PSNI officers on foot patrol in Belfast City Centre on Wednesday April 1st, 2020. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press

PSNI officers on foot patrol in Belfast City Centre on Wednesday April 1st, 2020. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press

Deirdre Hargey

Deirdre Hargey

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

PSNI officers on foot patrol in Belfast City Centre on Wednesday April 1st, 2020. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press

The public has been warned that the PSNI will not hesitate to take action against people who flout the lockdown during the Easter holidays.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey told the daily Stormont press briefing yesterday that officers would be out in force this weekend to ensure social distancing measures were adhered to.

"The PSNI will lay this out this weekend. If enforcement action needs to happen, it will happen. There will be on-the-spot fines. Those fines can be increased and other measures can be introduced," she said.

"Up until now, a good majority of the public have really worked well with us and that has helped reduce the peak.

"This isn't going to last for ever. We're asking people to work with us in the short term."

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots echoed the message and stressed that PSNI officers were already working to ensure people stuck to the guidelines.

"The police have powers to deal with people and they are stopping people on a regular basis," he said.

"People who are travelling to work are very often being stopped and asked where they are going.

"That is right and it is appropriate.

"Police are doing a good job on that and we welcome that.

"If people think it is okay to fill up their tank this weekend and head off, they'll be in for a shock because police will be out on the roads."

Mr Poots also emphasised that people must stay away from beauty spots and popular visitor locations, such as forests and the north coast.

"In the face of the alternative, this is a sacrifice that we must all make," he said.

"Our doctors and nurses and healthcare staff are giving everything and putting their lives at risk so that we have a chance to win this battle.

"We are now beginning to see the benefits of it, so let's not lose our nerve. Now's the time not to reverse all the good work that has been done. Now is the time to make it count by staying at home."

Reinforcing the message, Mrs Hargey added: "We are pleading with the public to keep doing what you're doing, stay indoors and stay in close proximity to your home."

The warning came as Irish police prepared to set up 50 checkpoints across the Republic in a bid to deter people from making unnecessary journeys.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris warned that people who had already travelled to holiday homes for the Easter break must stay there.

"If you are thinking of travelling there, then don't. That is not an essential journey," he said.

"If you have travelled to your holiday home, that is where you are now. That is your place of residence and that will be regarded as where you should be."

Simon Harris, the Republic's health minister, has agreed tougher regulations that will give gardai the power to issue fines for breaches and potentially detain people who are refusing to self-isolate.

Belfast Telegraph