Emo Court, Laois reopens with special times for cocooners
A popular Laois public amenity and heritage site has reopened this Monday with special times reserved for cocooners to enjoy the facilities.
Emo Court gardens has reopened and the times set aside for Covid-19 cocooners is from 10am to 1pm.
The Office of Public Works has published a list of sites around ireland that will begin reopening to the public during the first phase after May 18. A key part of the approach is to ensure that sites can only reopen where it is possible to do so in accordance with public health guidance and, in particular, with the Return to Work Safely Protocol published by Government.
In addition, the OPW is emphasising the need to address the needs of vulnerable groups and has made special provision at certain sites in relation to people who have been cocooning.
"The OPW has also, as part of this gradual reopening, made arrangements at certain sites to reserve certain spaces and times exclusively for Cocooners. This group has, by virtue of the restrictions on their movement, been particularly and significantly affected in the last several weeks and the OPW is creating a safe space and time for this particular group of people to enjoy these sites in the open air. OPW is asking all other users who visit our sites to respect these provisions so that the safety of these individuals can be protected as far as possible," they stated.
From Monday, May 18, a number of parkland locations and other sites with open spaces will begin to reopen to the public in accordance with the public health guidelines. Social distancing will apply and visitors will be strongly encouraged to observe all the regulations set out in respect of ensuring that when they use these facilities, they remain in small groups and within their own households.
Visitors are also reminded of the 5km distance limit and OPW have confirmed that public carparks at larger sites in particular will not be available; these will only reopen later in the phased approach in line with the Government Roadmap.
The sites may be closed again if there is too much traffic the OPW said.
"The OPW has worked with An Garda Síochána in planning surrounding traffic movements in particular and has agreed that the position in relation to traffic volumes coming to sites will be monitored. If, in the view of An Garda Síochána or the OPW, the traffic volume indicates that the 5km limit is being ignored, or if there are significant congestion issues arising, a decision may be taken to reclose certain facilities on public health grounds."
The OPW's other major site in Laois, Heywood Gardens is not yet reopening.
"Further Cocooner-reserved spaces may be announced at a later date when additional sites are identified and arrangements made so that they can become available," they said.
They say that while they will pursue a continuing strategy of progressively opening sites where it can be achieved safely and in accordance with protocols and public health guidelines, there are certain tourism site locations where the position cannot in their view be mitigated sufficiently and these locations must therefore remain closed in the short term and possibly for the remainder of the 2020 visitor season.
"The position in relation to these sites will be kept under review and should circumstances change, an announcement will be made," the OPW said.
The sites where these facilities for Cocooners are immediately available is as follows:
Reserved Area Reserved Times
Emo Court, Co. Laois
Grounds 10am to 1pm
Fota Arboretum, Co. Cork
Pleasure Garden & Walled Garden 10am to 1pm
Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge, Dublin
Rose Garden. 10am to 1pm
Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Full Garden 10am to 1pm
Kilkenny Castle, Co. Kilkenny
Rose Garden 10am to 1pm
Nenagh Castle, Co. Tipperary
Grounds 10am to 1pm
Portumna Castle, Co. Galway
Walled Garden. 10am to 1pm
Phoenix Park, Dublin
Visitor Centre Walled Garden 10am to 1pm
Roscrea Heritage, Co. Tipperary
Grounds & Walled garden 10am to 1pm