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Stay home and stay safe this Easter

9 Apr 2020

Frontline services are working together to urge the public to stay at home and follow social distancing guidelines over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Bedfordshire is continuing to increase with more than 400 hospital admissions and over 50 deaths – and of course the tragic news about 15 residents from one Luton care home who passed away this week. The number deaths is expected to continue to rise in the coming days as the virus takes hold in the county.

A delivery of 45,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was received by Bedfordshire Police this week and has been distributed by volunteers from the Bedfordshire Local Emergency Volunteers Executive Committee (BLEVEC) throughout frontline partner agencies in health, social care and local authorities, to help protect frontline workers over Easter.

The government has brought in strict measures to reduce people’s movements in a bid to try to prevent the spread, but with sunny and warm weather expected to continue into the long weekend, there are concerns people will ignore the advice.

Bedfordshire Police has warned that it will be taking firmer action against persistent flouters of the restrictions – while local authorities have also vowed to get tough – particularly on those who travel unnecessary distances to take their exercise. Central Bedfordshire Council issued 28 parking tickets last weekend, mostly for poor parking.

Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said: “We need people to respond this weekend with real common sense. The advice is clear to stay at home but, if you are lucky enough to have an outdoor space like a garden or balcony to a flat, as long as you are only with those already living in your household and nobody else at all and are completely separate from other neighbours, with no visiting friends or family, that is the safest and most sensible way to enjoy the sunshine and Easter holiday weekend, even in these very challenging times. I feel incredibly sorry for those, especially with young children, who don’t have access to the outdoors. This is an emergency and there’s no getting around that this is the best way to protect everyone around you, whatever their age.

"There cannot be a single realistic excuse now that people are not aware of the advice. This week has seen the highest number of deaths registered in 24 hours so far. It would be an iniquitous act of selfishness to behave in a way that could cause further infection that could be prevented; just ask our A&E doctors in Bedfordshire. Supporting them isn’t just a case of clapping on Thursday nights, it’s thinking about them and their patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when the sun is shining."

Bedfordshire Police will be conducting additional patrols in open spaces and leisure hotspots to ensure people are adhering to government rules designed to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Advertising trucks and billboards will also be used to reinforce the message for people to stay home and reduce pressure on the NHS.

Deputy Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst said: “The upcoming Easter Bank Holiday weekend may tempt people to go outside, meet up with friends or family and flout government guidance, but this is the time we need to look after each other and stay at home. The government guidance is clear, and those who chose to ignore it, particularly to gather in large groups can expect to be fined.

“Our officers will continue to patrol key areas to make sure people are following government guidance, but please continue to follow the rules so we can focus our valuable resources on responding to calls for service. Where people don’t act on our advice, we will have to resort to enforcement.”

To date Bedfordshire Police has issued four penalty notices – two in the Bedford area and two in the Luton area. This step is taken as a final resort when attempts to explain and encourage people to follow the rules preventing unnecessary visits outdoors or gatherings of people are ignored. In one example, a parent was fined after a child persisted to ignore police instructions.

DCC Rodenhurst continued: “We do have the ability to record the names and details of anyone we do ask to move on, so that if we have to speak again to the same individual, further enforcement action can be taken. We are relying on the public to work with us and support us on this matter, and if you are looking for things to keep children entertained over the Easter holiday, you can find a number of police-themed crafting activities and videos on our website.

“At this challenging time, we remain committed to protecting the public from all forms of crime and sadly we are still seeing increases in domestic abuse and child protection matters. Please look after each other and help us by adopting the government guidance, it will help us to ensure that our limited resources can best protect those most at risk from harm.”

Cllr Hazel Simmons, Leader of Luton Council, said: “It’s been a very tough week for Luton as we try to come to terms with the tragedy at Castletroy nursing home and all those in our community who are grieving the loss of family and friends. My plea to everyone this weekend is to follow the advice so we can slow the spread of this invisible and deadly disease. Stay at home for everyone currently grieving and for all those heroes who will be fighting this virus on the frontline for you this Easter.”

Cllr James Jamieson, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council said: “I know most of us are following the Government instruction to stay at home and I want to thank everyone who has been doing this. Unfortunately though, there are some who are not. Every time someone flouts the rules, they put their own and other people’s lives at risk. Everyone needs to stay at home, to slow the spread of the virus and keep Bedfordshire safe.”

Further information

For information visit the government guidance section on the Coronavirus pandemic.

Those wishing to report breaches of activity can do so via our online reporting centre – the public are urged not to contact the police 101 number for this matter due to increased demand, to allow call handlers and deployable resources to be prioritised.

If anyone is concerned that they may have COVID-19 symptoms, they should not visit a health setting. Instead they should use the NHS 111 online service in the first instance to check out their symptoms and get advice and information about what to do next.

Information about GP practice and pharmacy services over the Bank Holiday Easter Weekend can be found on the Bedfordshire CCG website.

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