| 17.4°C Belfast

Coronavirus: Police to display 'different approach and attitude' over Easter weekend


Chief Constable Simon Byrne warned of fines from Friday onwards

Chief Constable Simon Byrne warned of fines from Friday onwards

Chief Constable Simon Byrne warned of fines from Friday onwards

The Chief Constable has warned that the PSNI will issue fines from Friday onwards if members of the public are found breaching travel restrictions during the coronavirus crisis.

Simon Byrne told Stormont’s daily media briefing on Thursday that the public would see “a different approach and attitude” from police officers across Northern Ireland in the next few days in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Mr Byrne said that from Friday his officers would be stepping up patrols and checkpoints at beauty spots and on roads going to key resorts and “asking motorists to explain why they are going about their journey”.

“If you don’t have a reasonable explanation for a necessary journey, we will turn you back and if you don’t listen to that advice, we will issue a fixed penalty notice,” he added .

Mr Byrne said police were “picking up frustration” from those living in popular resorts that people have come to their second homes or are visiting and putting them at risk.

He added: “Whilst this is traditionally seen as a holiday period and I don’t want to be seen as a kill-joy we have to remember, as has been said time and time again, this is a health crisis. It’s not a holiday and we need to be behave differently.”

Mr Byrne said police have issued nearly 100 community resolution notices directing people to behave differently.

First Minister Arlene Foster added that while she knows Easter is a special time, she stressed that Easter 2020 would have to be “like no other”.

The DUP leader urged people to stay at home and not travel to beauty spots and to follow all other public health guidelines.

“We cannot behave like we normally do or interact with relatives or friends as we normally would.

“Please, stay at home. Please do not undertake non essential travel, please. Exercise outdoors, once a day, close to home. Please do not travel to beauty spots, no matter how sunny it is,” she said.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill also urged people not to travel or hold gatherings over Easter to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We know that this is a special time this weekend and one where we normally get together, we congregate, we make dinner together, we sit down as a family together.

“We take trips but this is not normal circumstances and if you behave as normal, more people will die.

“That’s a very direct message, but it’s a message I think people need to understand right now,” she added.

Belfast Telegraph