Garda checkpoint in Portlaoise on the first weekend of the lockdown
Gardaí in Laois blocked one of the busiest roads in Ireland, the M7 motorway near Portlaoise, on Wednesday evening as part of the national policing operation to stop the spread of the coronavirus in Ireland.
Gardaí in Portlaoise confirmed that as part of Operation Fannacht they diverted traffic coming from the Dublin direction off the motorway at Junction 17 which is the busiest of the three main motorway junctions near Portlaoise.
The junction also marks one of the last main exit points on the motorway for motorists heading to Cork and Limerick out of Dublin.
Gardaí said traffic was diverted onto the Togher roundabout to a checkpoint where motorists would have their credentials checked and asked about the purpose of their journey.
Laois Offaly Garda Chief Superintendent John Scanlan said motorists would be asked to return home if they were unable to give a valid reason for leaving their home under the Government's restrictions.
He urged people to comply with the measures and show respect to people who have lost their lives to the virus in Ireland by staying at home this Easter.
Gardaí have new powers under Covid-19 legislation which give them the authority to direct the public to disperse and take other actions to halt the spread of the virus.
Under the lockdown, people can only leave home for food or exercise within 2km of their homes. Only a small number of essential workers are allowed to leave home.
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already called on the public not to leave their homes for Easter. The Minister for Health Simon Harris has said anybody who is in a holiday home will be required to stay their for the duration of the crisis.
Gardaí have launched a major operation to ensure public compliance with the travel restrictions introduced recently as part of Covid-19 public health guidelines.
Under Operation Fanacht an extensive network of checkpoints established across the country. The operation runs until Monday night, April 13.
It is suspected that some people have tried to leave Dublin for their holiday homes for Easter.