At the onset of the pandemic, gardaí were deployed from the Garda College to Cork as part of a national policing package in the face of Covid-19.
11 newly attested gardaí were deployed to Cork North, while 16 were deployed to Cork city and seven were deployed to West Cork.
By mid-March cases were rising rapidly and An Garda Síochána encouraged everyone to observe social distancing and a number of car parks were closed due to the huge crowds that flocked to beaches and cliff sides.
At the end of March, gardaí vowed to take a no-nonsense approach to “disgraceful” incidents of youths deliberately coughing into people’s faces.
April saw the launch of Operation Fanacht, a major operation to ensure public compliance with the travel restrictions as part of Covid-19 public health guidelines.
The operation saw an extensive network of checkpoints established across the country which saw over 2,500 gardaí involved in checkpoints or high visibility patrolling at any one time.
The operation also saw gardaí conduct high visibility patrols at major tourist locations, parks and natural beauty spots.
An Garda Síochána deemed the operation a success after only seven arrests were made over the Easter period with overall compliance with travel restrictions observed.
Garda statistics showed that burglaries decreased in April with no incidents of burglaries in Cork North and Cork West garda divisions for more than three weeks. However, there were a number of burglary incidents in Cork city, with a significant increase during the summer months.
Domestic violence incidents also increased in all three Cork garda divisions, as was expected by support agencies for victims of domestic violence during the Covid-19 crisis.
Following the Government’s decision to move the country to Level 3 of the National Framework for Living with Covid-19 in October, An Garda Síochána recommence Operation Fanacht with people encouraged not to travel out of their county unless for essential reasons.
President Michael D Higgins signed the Health (Amendment) Bill 2020, which amended the Health Act 1947 to expand the penalties that can be applied to offences when restrictions are broken.
In December, when restrictions were eased to Level 3 ahead of the Christmas period, gardaí continued to operate high visibility checkpoints, patrol local parks, and engage with vulnerable and elderly in the community.
Such duties have been continued into the current Level 5 lockdown, with gardaí reminding people that travel restrictions do not apply in the case of domestic violence or to escape a risk of harm under Operation Faoiseamh.
Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said that “the vast majority of people” have followed public health guidelines and thanked them for their compliance throughout a year that “hasn’t been easy and has involved great sacrifices”.
He said, however, that Covid-19 “doesn’t relax” and reminded people to continue to adhere to public health guidelines.
"Exercise within 5km of your home. If you are doing this in a place that is getting crowded then leave. Minimise your contacts. Only take essential journeys. Maintain social distancing. Wash your hands,” he said.