Police are planning on mounting more checkpoints and patrols over the Easter holiday weekend.
Confirmation came as the PSNI revealed that it had so far issued 100 ‘Community Resolution Notices’ across Northern Ireland since new powers were bestowed.
And while no fixed penalty notices have been issued yet that, however, could change.
A PSNI spokesperson said they were prepared to take action against anyone not observing restrictions.
The spokesperson said: “The message is clear. Stay at home. I appreciate, as do officers and staff that this is traditionally a busy weekend when people would visit family, attend services or visit resorts or beauty spots, however we have to remember, as has been said time and time again, that this is a health crisis not a holiday. We need to behave differently.
“This battle against the virus is a marathon and not a sprint. I have been really pleased and proud to see how the health service has stepped up as well as the response from blue light colleagues and people in society. We have seen a lot of good will.
“We have also seen however evidence that a lot of people still are not taking the advice to stay at home, not heeding our three Es – Engage, Explain and Encourage – and we have now issued almost 100 Community Resolution Notices directing people to behave differently.
“Tomorrow we will be stepping up again. You will see more police patrols and checkpoints across Northern Ireland for example at beauty spots, on roads going to key resorts to actually talk to motorists and ask them to explain why they are going about their journey.
“If you don’t have a reasonable explanation, we will turn you back. And if you don’t listen to that advice we will issue a fixed penalty notice.
“Exercise and wellbeing are of course important however I have a simple plea – start your exercise at your front door. Stay at home. You’re not stuck indoors, you’re actually saving lives by being inside.”
Meanwhile, popular destinations – such as the North Coast – will be very much in the police’s thinking over the weekend ahead.
The spokesperson said: “You can expect to see more police in more places and on our roads over Easter.
“We have been conducting filtering stops on some of the road network in recent weeks. Those vehicle checkpoints will be stepped up over the weekend and will continue.
“Police officers have been out engaging with the public, explaining why they’re there and encouraging them to stay in line with the regulations.”
“The vast majority of people have by and large complied with the request to stay at home to protect the health service and to save lives but there are unfortunately a number of people who continue to ignore the messaging.
“So whilst our approach will continue to be engaging with people, explaining the regulations and encourage them to comply, I think there are a small number of people, if the trend continues over the weekend, can expect to see us move to the fourth ‘E’ which is some form of enforcement.”
Police have also reminded the public that privately-run holiday accommodation – including caravan parks and camp sites – should have ceased business under the emergency restrictions, bar a number of exceptional circumstmances.
The PSNI spokesperson said: “Where a site is found to be breaching the regulations police will in the first instance ask the business owner to close.
“There is however a power for police and any person designated by the Department of Health to issue a prohibition notice requiring the person to cease trading and if they do not do so, they may be issued with a penalty notice, incorporating a fine.”
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