Bundoran Adventure Park should be bustling with activities and fun fair rides but instead lies eerily silent as the normally busy Easter tourist period approaches
The Easter weekend heralds the start of the traditional tourist season in Donegal. But this will be an Easter like no other.
The sweeping Covid-19 pandemic and the extraordinary times we are living through has meant that the county's most popular holiday resort, Bundoran is appealing for visitors to stay away at this time, not visit.
Bundoran Tourism Officer, Shane Smyth said: "As a town completely reliant on tourism, we are absolutely gutted to not have our valued guests with us this weekend. But we will not open up the town until it is safe for us to do so.
"When this time comes, we look forward to welcoming our friends from all corners of Ireland and beyond, to return and enjoy all the wonderful amenities, attractions and facilities we have to offer.
"We are appealing for people not to visit Bundoran this weekend and to stay at home.
“The coronavirus is still a serious reality and it is our duty as citizens to do everything we can to further prevent its spread.
“Yesterday afternoon, the sun was shining, the waves were majestic, but the main street was empty apart from passing traffic. Social distancing was limited to a few stray seagulls, a pleasant breeze and the occasional walker.
EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED
Down beside the town's main beach Josh Wilmot is looking over an empty Bundoran Adventure Park.
He is catching up on a few DIY chores that he never expected to be doing, all under the watchful eye of one of his pet dogs.
He said “Not a single structure has been erected in the park this year to date. Usually we would be expecting the first of the visitors that Bundoran is blessed to have each year.
“But everything has changed. Nobody is about. We are not even sure when and if we can open for the summer. Bills have to be paid. It's terrible for everyone. We just don't know what the future holds.”
His mother Michelle added: “We are living in uncertain times, my thoughts go out to all who find themselves in this situation. The future is uncertain but we must stand together and go forward together.”
Bundoran's sun-drenched beach area is empty
Bundoran's Tourism Officer Shane Smyth remains optimistic for the future if everybody works together.
“We’re making good progress but we are not out of the woods just yet and our actions over the next week, despite the temptations to gather outside, will have a vital impact on our friends, families and our health service.
“We would appeal to our guests to continue to follow the directions of the Department of Health and the Chief Medical Officer and continue to stay at home. If we all work together, the sooner we can get over this and the sooner we will get back to normality.
THE RIGHT THING TO DO
Local Sinn Féin Cllr Michael McMahon appealed for people to do the right thing, whether that be Bundoran, Rossnowlagh, Fintra or Glencolmcille or Portnoo.
“Donegal's history has always been about welcoming visitors from all four corners of this island. Surfers travel here from all over the world to catch our famous waves.
“ It is heartbreaking both for the town and county as thousands that come here for their annual Easter break. But we will be up and running as soon as this terrible pandemic has left our shores.”
Gardaí have been given enhanced powers to implement travel restrictions over what is normally one of the busiest bank holidays in the county.
Operation Fanacht will see an extensive network of checkpoints established across the country. It came into force at 12 noon on Wednesday and continues until Monday night, April 13. It will involve thousands of checkpoints every day.
The operation will also see Gardaí conduct high visibility patrols at major tourist locations, parks and natural beauty spots to ensure compliance with travel restrictions.
Recent days have also seen a rise in weather temperatures across Donegal and the rest of the island.
Notwithstanding the existing exemptions including legal, medical and family obligations, accessing an essential service and exercise within 2km of home, a person cannot leave their home now without a reasonable excuse.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has re-emphasised the stay at home appeal because this weekend hearlds both the start of what would have been the official Easter school holidays and the first really busy holiday weekend for visitors.
He said in a tweet: “Please do not visit a holiday home or caravan park this Easter weekend.
“The spread of the virus is slowing but people travelling could give it a boost - spreading it and seeding it in areas unaffected so far. Stay at home and #FlattenTheCurve.”
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