AN emotional appeal has been made by a number of community leaders for those intending to travel to Clare holiday homes for Easter to cancel their plans.
Despite the signing into law of stringent new Garda powers to enforce the Covid-19 lock-down, concerns remain that many have flocked to the West in recent days.
The Director of Nursing at St Theresa’s Nursing Home in Kilrush told The Champion that the increase in visitors has been noticeable, and said the situation is a great risk to aging communities are already living in fear.
“The risk they are bringing is not just to us in the Nursing Home and protection agencies but also to the many ageing communities in West Clare,” Yvonne Moroney said.
“This is the same area they love to visit year after year, but it will not be the same if the infection was to catch on in our small communities. Many people are worried about what people they don’t know might bring to their small communities.
“They are putting lives at risk by their very visit to our local area. We implore that they please return home. Kilkee, Doonbeg and all our other beautiful tourist areas will still be here later in the year, next year and for may years to come.”
In North Clare, Councillor Roisín Garvey described receiving a call for an elderly constituent: “When an 83-year-old woman rings you crying down the phone, saying that there are all these Dublin regs driving into the estate beside her that she hasn’t seen for a few weeks, you have to take action on that, that is just not fair.”
The Green Party members added that she felt people had had enough time to travel before the restrictions kicked in: “Leo Varadkar called this last Friday week. That was the time to move down to your holiday home and bunker down if you wanted to. Now is not the time. We do not want more casualties as a result of people feeling they need to go to their holiday homes. I’m sorry.
“People have to suck it up. We’re all suffering and we’re all putting up with things we don’t want to. How we behave this weekend could be key to how this virus acts in this country.”
Miltown-based Dr Billy O’Connell also issued an appeal to people to remain at home: “It’s not that we want to keep the place to ourselves, travelling now would go against all of the public health advice. In Ireland, we still have a generous allocation of 2km for movement, when you look at what is happening in other countries. Restricting movement does work to contain Covid-19, we need to stick with it for now.”
Dr Michael Harty and Deputy Cathal Crowe have added their voices to the appeal for patience.
“This is really stressing out locals in these locations at a time they are trying to self-isolate,” Deputy Crowe said.
Dr Harty has urged holiday makers not to travel to holiday homes in locations like Carrigaholt, Kilkee, Spanish Point, Lahinch, Fanore and Ballyvaughan and other hot spots throughout the country.
“There is a big anxiety in local communities that this weekend, which is traditionally a big Bank Holiday weekend that people will travel to their holiday homes in holiday hotspots along the West coast.
“We saw it a few weeks ago and it tended to trickle away over the last two weekends. There is a fear there will be a big influx of people to their holiday homes over the weekend.
He said elderly people in West and North Clare are cocooning and taking the advice from the HSE to stay at home and in this context it is irresponsible for others to flout these regulations.
“There are a lot of people who go to work in health facilities and hospitals who are trying to keep people alive and prevent the spread of this infection.
“There is another cohort of people who seem to think it doesn’t apply to them. We have too assume everyone has the virus because there are so many people who have no symptoms but have the capacity to spread it on to vulnerable people and cause havoc for them.
New legislation means a fine of up to €2,500, or six months in prison for anyone detected by Gardaí up to Easter Sunday, when restrictions are widely expected to be extended.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) estimates that there are around 5,000 holiday homes in Clare and the popular Air BNB website has 300 current listings for the county.
Fiona McGarry and Dan Danaher