An increase in numbers of people exercising in popular sites across the city and county is adding to social distancing challenges, car parking and adding to the risk of infection.
Minister of State Malcolm Noonan said that while it is wonderful to see so many people out exercising within their 5k restricted zones, that it is important that people observe social distancing and wear face masks at all times.
"At a local level people need to exercise extreme caution and try to avoid ‘hot spots’ for walkers to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 infection.
"In particular it is important to observe social distancing while out walking, jogging or cycling. With the new and more highly transmissible variant of the virus out there, we have to all be extra vigilant, to keep our distance and to wear face masks at all times and wear them correctly."
Minister Noonan said that walking routes along the Canal Walk in the city, the Linear Park and Kilkenny Castle had all become very busy and that it was important in this really critical phase of the pandemic to minimise every opportunity for the virus to spread.
"We are in a very dangerous wave where unfortunately our guard was dropped over the Christmas period and where the new variant is accelerating the transmission of the disease. It threatens to overwhelm our health services. We have a collective responsibility to stay at home unless we really have to do essential work, to exercise safely within our 5k, wear masks and to minimise social contact," he said.
Meanwhile Superintendent of Kilkenny Garda Station is urging people to stay within a five kilometre radius from their homes when exercising.
‘These simple actions coupled with the rollout of a vaccination programme will save lives and protect our health system. Yes it’s incredibly draining on our collective mental wellbeing but we must keep going and heeding public health advice until we can suppress the transmission of Covid 19 in the community’ concluded Minister Noonan.