Fear factor lessens as a joined up approach helps to reduce large crowds pouring into Newcastle at weekends.
With a spell of fine weather recently, crowds swamped Newcastle in County Down causing health concerns over Covid-19 and calls for a joined-up response were made by local politicians.
Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson Cllr Laura Devlin said: “With Mother’s Day approaching on Sunday 14 March, it is understandable that many will wish to spend time with or visit their mother.
“As stated by the Chief Medical Officer, risks to older people and those with underlying health remains very real. While vaccination will over time protect many of those at risk of severe disease no vaccination is 100% effective and not everyone at risk is yet vaccinated.
“And with St. Patrick’s Day just a few days after on 17 March, many will also wish to celebrate this annual holiday too.
“Recently we experienced many people coming to the Newcastle area – everyone must remember that a third of people infected with COVID have no symptoms and don’t know they have it. The more people mix the more they risk passing the virus on to others, particularly older people.
“The Council continues to communicate the latest Public Health Agency COVID-19 messaging via its channels and has placed parking cones at various popular areas in and around Newcastle to help prevent parking.
“The Stay At Home order is now legally enforceable, and you cannot leave home without a reasonable excuse. A reasonable excuse to leave home is one such as for medical reasons, food shopping, exercise and work that cannot be done from home, and there is an increase in visible policing to help enforce these new regulations.”
Cllr Devlin added: “I know many of you have been following this guidance and encouraging others to do so. I want to thank you for all your efforts and I ask you to keep going at this worrying time.”
Mournes Sinn Féin Councillor Willie Clarke has praised the response last weekend from the PSNI, Newry MOurne and Down District Council, the PCSP, local communities, voluntary blue light agencies and other statutory partners.
Managing visitors to Newcastle and areas in the Mourne’s main tourism hotspots was more effective with a greater presence on the ground which has been welcomed by local residents.
Cllr Clarke said: “Following previous weekends where we had dangerous levels of visitors to Newcastle and surrounding attractions, I welcome the cooperation between agencies to improve the safety of residents.
“NMDDC placed traffic cones at Carrick Little, Head Road and Tollymore Forest Park. The PSNI had vehicle checkpoints at main arterial routes into Newcastle area, they also had mobile patrols in Newcastle during the day and issued tickets for obstruction at a number of areas including Trassey track and Bloody bridge.
“These measures helped ease the pressures to our natural environmental treasures and as we move into the Covid recovery phase, it is clear that extra resources are required to manage and maintain our rights of ways, forests, beaches and our parks.
“NMDDC and the PSNI will continue to share social media messaging on restricting travel to within 10 miles etc. of your home during the epidemic which is technically still with us. And the PSNI have also advised that they will continue to be active across the entire wider district, and not just Newcastle,” said Cllr Clarke.