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A swimming ban remains in place for Kilkee beach.

Social distancing focus for peak holiday season

AS THE height of the holiday season draws closer, authorities are to step-up efforts to ensure people enjoy their time in Clare safety. Concerns have been voiced by some members of the council that a recent influx of visitors is putting public health and safety at risk, while a senior Garda spokesperson urged people to remember their personal responsibility in minimising the risk of a second wave of Covid-19.

At the July meeting of Clare County Council, a number of members were torn between welcoming the economic boost created by the spike in visitor numbers and concerns that social distancing guidelines are being flouted in some areas.

“We welcome everybody to County Clare,” said Councillor Ann Norton. “We are still in a pandemic and it is hugely important that people take heed of public health advice, whether they are here for a holiday or on a day trip. Visitors are hugely welcome, but people must be kept safe.”

Councillor Johnny Flynn also voiced some concerns. “Three of my young adults have been in West Clare lately and had some difficulties with social distancing,” he said. “We may need to look at resources in that regard.”

Director of Finance and Support Services Noeleen Fitzgerald noted that a council campaign to boost domestic tourism to Clare had proven to be a huge success. “We are still in a pandemic and very aware of public health advice,” she said. “We have had wardens and general operatives on beaches at the weekend. This will continue right through to the [August] Bank Holiday weekend. There are challenges, but it’s the responsibility of the public to abide by the public health regulations.”

Superintendent John Galvin told The Champion the force was continuing its strategy of engagement. “We all have a personal responsibility,” he said. “Enforcement is an option, but it is always a last resort. We are seeing the welcome return to tourists to Clare. An influx can create difficulty on a beach when the tide is coming in and there’s less space, but people are generally compliant.” Superintendent Galvin said there had been “a small number of complaints” about businesses, but none upheld.

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