Donegal County Council has confirmed the closure of Lisfannon Beach near Buncrana, and says other beaches and public walkways may have to be closed.
In as statement this evening, the council says the issue of large crowds congregating in public places such as beaches, parks, and walking trails has been well highlighted over the past few days.
The council says it will seek to maintain access to beaches, parks and walking trails as much as possible, but it will be the voluntary compliance of the general public with the physical distance protocols that will allow these facilities to remain open and available. Otherwise, more will have to be closed.
Council statement in full -
County Council Update on COVID-19
The issue of large crowds congregating in public places such as beaches, parks, walking trails and indeed queuing at take-away food outlets has been well highlighted over the past few days. The Taoiseach in announcing new measures yesterday for the control of the spread of COVID-19 commented on this aspect of our social gathering and the need for proper physical distancing and limiting social gatherings outdoors to four persons. He went on to indicate that the Gardai will increase interventions where groups of people are not complying.
It is acknowledged that last weekend was the first dry and sunny weekend in many months and, naturally such a weekend would normally bring many locals and visitors to public amenities. The big difference, however, this year we are in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis where everyone is asked to stay at home as much as possible and restrict their movements to help the Country delay and manage the spread of the virus. There has been enough public messaging on what is expected of the population at this stage and yet the message has not sunk-in with some or they simply are choosing to ignore it. This could have very severe consequences for the people themselves, their family and friends or the wider community.
It is also acknowledged that people need to have an opportunity to get outdoors for exercise and their general well being. Access to beaches, parks and walking trails helps to meet this need for many and it is for this reason that at this time the Council will be making every effort to keep as many of these facilities open for the public. This must be done in a sensible and managed way. Ultimately, it will be the voluntary compliance of the general public with the physical distance protocols that will allow these facilities to remain open and available. Otherwise they will have to be closed.
The Council yesterday announced the closure of the visitor’s centre and toilets and introduced restrictions to certain vehicular access at Slieve Liag cliffs and those remain in place. In addition, Lisfannon Beach between Fahan and Buncrana will be completely closed. The existing access barrier that has been closed for some time due to erosion and access issues will be reinforced.
The Council requests that people stay at home as much as possible but when visiting the local public amenities that are open to obey the fundamental rules at this time including:
- Everyone to stay at least 2m apart;
- Groups to be no greater than 4 persons;
- Do not congregate at entrance points – when you arrive, move on as quick as you can;
- Bring your own water and snacks and avoid ice cream vans and the like where big crowds tend to gather with no means of observing the proper protocols;
- If you arrive at an amenity that is already crowded, move on and find somewhere else or come back when the crowd has cleared;
- Follow any directions given on signage or by people in charge; and,
- Take personal responsibility and understand the relevant government protocols which are in wide circulation.
The Council has been liaising with the Gardai who have confirmed that they will be patrolling beaches and public amenities and other locations where crowds gather. They will be taking steps to ensure that social/physical distancing is being observed and will disperse crowds of more than four persons. Particular emphasis will be placed on locations that have already experienced crowds who have already flouted the government’s guidance.
The Council acknowledges the huge steps taken by the general public over a short number of weeks. It is something that none of us could have imagined would be needed in such a short space of time. People have had to make huge adjustments and sacrifices in many aspects of their daily lives from family, jobs, businesses and financially. For our many visitors, we are asking them not to cancel their trips to Donegal but instead to postpone them until a time we are in a position to once again offer a warm welcome to our beautiful County.
At this time we are seeking the help and co-operation of everyone to take another step and make one more push against COVID-19 to keep each other safe in our public areas and amenities.