Rise in reports of youth and house gatherings in NW - Gardai warn of potential COVID spread consequences

Gardaí in Inishowen have urged anyone thinking of organising or attending a gathering or house party to consider the consequences for themselves and others.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 11:55 am

Garda Inspector Shaun Grant told the ‘Journal’ that there has been a rise in the numbers of gatherings among young people and even among older age groups over recent times, despite Level 5 restrictions remaining in place.

The confirmation follows concerns that the age profile for those testing positive for COVID-19 is getting younger, which may be linked to such meet ups.

Insp. Grant said: “We have had some concerns and an increase in reporting to us over house parties and social gatherings occurring.

Buncrana Garda Station. (DER4613JB082)

“It is something we are actively targeting at the minute with additional resources and checkpoints taking place.

“We are trying to engage with the community and young people in particular and asking them to stay at home and don’t be mixing unnecessarily. But it is not just restricted to youths.”

Insp. Grant said gardaí understood how difficult the current situation was for young people and others, including those who are isolating or who are isolated, but he said the battle against COVID-19 was at a “particularly sensitive stage” and cautioned that Ireland remained under the top tier of restrictions with emergency legislation still in place.

He also urged parents, landlords and young people themselves to bring to bear what influence they had to prevent unnecessary gatherings and the risk of new infections spreading.

“I would urge people to ask themselves, ‘do I really need to leave the house? Is this necessary?’

Gardai are still following the explain and advise route, there Insp. Grant said have unfortunately been incidents locally where they have had to enforce regulations and issued fixed penalty notices to “a minority of persons who have not heeded the advice”.

He also urged anyone who is unable or who is deemed at high risk and can’t get out for groceries and prescriptions to contact their local garda station. “We are here to help and we would prefer people contact us and that may help reduce interactions and the amount of contacts people are having.

“We are not just here for enforcement and people shouldn’t be afraid to contact their local garda station. We can help with collecting prescriptions, groceries, or if we can’t help we can signpost to the relevant agency.”

He added that there was a lot of great work going on in the community to help the most vulnerable local people, and said that if people had to travel a fair distance to do this, gardai may be able to assist.