Police tell holidaymakers to stay at home over the Easter holiday
Will they NEVER learn? Cyclists ride close together through Regents Park in London despite Boris Johnson telling Britain it is essential to stay indoors this weekend and maintain coronavirus lockdown
- Boris Johnson urged Britons to remain at home despite the promise of good weather and cheap fuel prices
- He urged caravan fans to abandon plans to travel to beauty spots for the week as police warned of patrols
- Officials fear that a mass exodus from cities could lead to a surge in Covid-19 cases if people go on holiday
- Mr Johnson yesterday extended his self-isolation period yesterday after admitting he was still symptomatic
Boris Johnson last night begged Britons to cancel their Easter getaway plans amid fears the sunny weather will jeopardise the lockdown.
However, just hours after his plea, dozens of cyclists were spotted riding in close proximity in London’s Regent’s Park.
Police chiefs have warned that people breaching the coronavirus lockdown rules face being fined.
Forces plan to step up patrols in beauty spots and major routes to the coast, as officers warn ‘lockdown in Easter shouldn’t be much different from lockdown’ on any other day.
Cyclists in Regents park have been ignoring the government’s social distancing rules by riding in close proximity to each other. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on people this weekend to stay at home, though these riders in Regent’s Park were today taking advantage of the bright spring weather
Exercise fans were out in force in London’s Regent’s Park this morning despite the government’s plea to stay at home
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to stay at home yesterday from his ongoing self isolation in his flat at Number 11 Downing Street
Officials fear that thousands of people will head to the seaside this week, pictured here Brighton beach on Good Friday last year
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, from Devon and Cornwall Police, has encouraged people to stay home during the good weather this weekend.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘This is a national endeavour, everyone plays their part, it’s the time to put others before self and we’re seeing so many people across local government doing their part, the NHS of course.
‘But it’s actually the public, the millions of people, to put others before self to be selfless, not selfish.’
Chief Constable Sawyer said his officers would in the first instance ‘explain’ and ‘encourage’ people to abide by the Government guidelines on essential travel.
He explained: ‘When we come to enforcement, that really is a last resort because, in a way, if we come to enforcement then everybody has failed to understand the significance of this endeavour.
‘It’s not just visitors, even within my 4,000 square miles I’ve got my own population that really just want to jump in the car and travel.
‘They want to go to the moors they want to go to the beaches.’
He described this weekend as ‘a time to remember the importance of stay at home and save lives’.
Chief Constable Sawyer added: ‘Where we are seeing gatherings on the beach we will first enquire because that gathering might be a family.
‘We mustn’t assume and jump to policing by judgment, we have to have a conversation.
‘We’ll encourage people to go home, to separate, to isolate.
‘But, equally, if groups really will not listen, then enforcement is a last resort.’
Chief Constable Sawyer said Devon and Cornwall’s 700 miles of coastline is ‘unpoliceable other than by the public themselves’.
He added: ‘Of course, we’ll focus on core areas, we’re certainly looking at the arterial roads into the South West – the M4, M5, A303 and then, within the peninsular, the A30.
‘But that is a very small workforce.
‘Devon and Cornwall police requires the public both within and outside our geography to play their part.
‘When they do gather … we will talk, we’ll converse, and, if needs be, as a last resort we’ll enforce.’
Southend Police warned people planning to visit the town this weekend that parking bays have been closed to protect the public from spreading the coronavirus
Cumbria Police have posted photographs of an empty Windermere as people in the Lake District heed the lockdown call
Police forces across Britain have warned they on patrol searching for people who might be ignoring the stay at home call
The Met Office advised that temperatures would reach the high 60s over the weekend which could tempt people outside
Tourism bosses have warned the warm weather this weekend may tempt families into flouting the rules. Petrol prices have also plummeted in recent weeks to as little as 99p a litre in some places.
Highways England said people appeared to be heeding instructions and staying clear of the road network.
A spokesman said: ‘As people follow government advice to stay at home if possible, traffic volumes and incidents appear to be reducing. Maintaining a safe road network is our priority and that’s what our on-road teams, control room staff, and the people who support them, are all working hard to do.’
Gloucestershire Police said officers would be stopping motorists who appear to be heading on holiday, such as those towing caravans.
The force said there had been particular concern in some rural areas that second home owners will be visiting over the Easter holiday. Yesterday, Boris Johnson said he understood ‘everybody may be getting a bit stir crazy’.
But the Prime Minister pleaded with Britons to ‘stick with the guidance’ to avoid an NHS meltdown.
He said: ‘I reckon a lot of people will be starting to think that this is all going on for quite a long time and would rather be getting out there, particularly if you’ve got kids in the household, everybody may be getting a bit stir crazy, and there may be just a temptation to get out there, hang out and start to break the regulations.
‘I just urge you not to do that. Please, please stick with the guidance now.’
Public spaces, including ‘major parks’, could be closed if people keep flouting the rules, according to a Government source quoted by the Daily Telegraph. The Met Office has forecast sunny spells today and tomorrow, with temperatures set to reach 20C (68F) in some parts of the country.
Yesterday a number of police forces announced extra high-visibility patrols. Humberside Chief Constable Lee Freeman said: ‘I ask that people do not allow themselves to be tempted to become complacent.’
Under the public health regulations, anyone caught outside without a good reason faces a £60 fine or possible arrest.
In France, tens of thousands of extra police have been deployed and road blocks set up for Easter. Health Secretary Matt Hancock declined to rule out following the French example of having police at stations checking people’s movements.
The Welsh government will introduce a law forcing all employers to make sure their workers keep 6ft apart, the first of its kind in the UK.
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