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Please be careful this weekend

3 Jul 2020

The NHS, Police and the county’s Local Authorities have joined forces to issue a stark warning to the people of Bedfordshire and Luton ahead of this weekend.

Although some pubs and restaurants will open for the first time since March on Saturday 4 July, coronavirus is still in our community and infection rates in the local area remain high.

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said: “I don’t want to put a dampener on the weekend for anyone but, since Bedford is experiencing a spike in Covid infections and Luton has been in the top 50 hotspots around the country, as inhibitions are loosened as people socialise in the pubs, restaurants and clubs once more, I would like everyone to remember their personal and moral responsibility to protect themselves and others around them as well as those who they’ll come into contact with afterwards. 

“Bedfordshire Police will be trying to make sure that everyone enjoys themselves in more crowded places without putting others in harm’s way and, as they’re just trying to protect the public and as we’ve had several unacceptable events where our officers have found themselves under attack when doing so, I’d like to underline that this is not part of the job and any such behaviour will be met with the most robust response available in law - which can mean 12 months in prison, whether or not you’ve ever been in trouble before. 

“If anyone wants to report a breach of the Covid guidelines in the hospitality industry, they need to contact their local Trading Standards Department as this is not a police responsibility to enforce. Please don’t call the 101 service, let alone 999, as you would only be blocking those who genuinely need to access police assistance."

Dr Nicola Smith, Clinical Chair for NHS BLMK Clinical Commissioning Groups, has said: “The last few months has been a true test for the public with many sacrificing their freedom and spending their time supporting and protecting the NHS, however, the virus hasn’t gone away and we must all stay vigilant to slow the spread and lower the infection rate.

“If you plan on visiting a pub or restaurant this weekend, I urge you to stay the safe distance of two metres away from others, wear a face covering if travelling there on public transport and wash your hands regularly with warm soapy water or use hand sanitiser.

“Please remember that anyone can spread coronavirus and anyone can get it. Even if you aren’t presenting symptoms, you can still be carrying the virus. We all have a role to play in protecting ourselves, loved ones, family and friends.”

Alongside the NHS, partners from across Bedfordshire and Luton are working hard to ensure the local population stays safe and well this weekend.

Bedfordshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst said: “We are looking forward to engaging with the public this weekend, as some pubs and restaurants prepare to open their doors, but only where they can safely welcome customers back after the long and challenging lockdown.

“We will be resuming our usual patrols for weekend social hotspots across the county, including areas where we see typically high footfall and lots of licensed venues. We have worked closely with our partners in health, local authorities and the venues themselves, represented by our Pub Watch liaison group, to prepare to safely facilitate this return.

“As the police, our role in the latest government guidance is to help explain and encourage the advice around social distancing, hygiene and safety, while of course protecting the public from any wider criminality. That said, we have been heartened by Bedfordshire’s overall approach to the Covid-19 pandemic and would continue to urge our residents to protect each other by staying vigilant, observing the guidelines and enjoying themselves in a safe and sensible manner.”

Luton Council Leader, Hazel Simmons, Central Bedfordshire Leader, James Jamieson and Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, issued a joint statement adding: “While this is a significant moment in our fight against this deadly disease, and is welcome news for the many businesses who have suffered extreme hardship over the last three months, we urge everyone to remain extremely vigilant.

“What’s happened in Leicester this week is a reminder that we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Any further lockdowns would be even more catastrophic for businesses so if you do plan to go out, please do so in small groups, keep a 2 metre distance at all times and regularly wash your hands.”  

If you are presenting symptoms of coronavirus; new continuous cough, high temperature, loss or change in taste or smell, please use the NHS 111 coronavirus online service and book a test immediately. If you test positive, you and your household must self-isolate for 14 days. 

If you would like more information on how to keep yourself and others safe from this weekend, please read the latest blog from Public Health England: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/07/03/staying-alert-and-staying-safe-from-4-july/

Coronavirus symptoms: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/

NHS 111 online Service: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

Book a test here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/get-an-antigen-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/

During the weekend, officers will have the power to disperse large gatherings in Bedford town centre under Section 34 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, where there is a possibility that dispersal would help reduce the risk of crime or disorder in the area.

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