Devon and Cornwall Police says officers will continue with high-visibility patrols and ‘will not hesitate’ to dish out fines to a ‘small minority’ flouting lockdown rules.
The force has reiterated enforcement will only be used as a ‘last resort’ in a message issued to residents after the Government extended the measures.
Some 169 penalties and 960 verbal warnings were issued across both counties over the Easter weekend.
Officers spoke with more than 5,500 people while carrying out visits to 4,000 beauty spots and businesses across the region.
Enforcement will be our last resort but we will not hesitate to use this where appropriate…
Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew said following Thursday’s move by Whitehall to extending lockdown rules for another three weeks: “This announcement means that the legislation and government advice on social distancing and restricted movement remains the same, and it is expressly to prevent the spread of coronavirus, to protect the NHS and to save lives.
“It includes the following: Only go outside for essential food, for exercise, for health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home).
“If you go out, stay two metres (6ft) away from other people at all times.
“Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
“We will be continuing our high-visibility patrols with our approach remaining the same; we continue to engage, explain and encourage people to adhere to the guidelines.
“As previously stated, enforcement will be our last resort but we will not hesitate to use this where appropriate.
“Devon and Cornwall Police alongside other emergency will respond to incidents and calls for service as necessary.
“We are confident that we have the resource and resilience to continue to deliver core services to those that need us.
“We understand the hardships that our communities are going through at this time, but this is a collaborative effort and I want to take this opportunity to thank the vast majority of you who are adhering to the government guidelines and avoiding unnecessary travel.
“Unfortunately, a small minority of people continue to ignore the restrictions and we are appealing to them to do the right thing.
“We know how difficult these measures are for everyone – but this is about protecting our families, friends and communities.
“I continue to be very proud of my officers, staff, volunteers, local partners and all the key workers who have all shown incredible resilience throughout these unprecedented times and continue to do so.
“We are all in this together, each and every one of us has a vital role to play in reducing the rate of the spread of the virus.”
Open letter to communities across Devon and Cornwall
The message was issued after emergency services and local authorities in Devon and Cornwall urged communities to ‘keep up the good work in stopping the spread of Covid-19’.
Agencies tasked with stopping the virus in its tracks penned an open letter (pictured, below) to residents imploring them to continue following the restrictions.
ACC Mayhew, who chairs the Local Resilience Forum (LRF), said: “I know the restrictions are hard on everyone, but I have been really pleased with the public’s response so far and I thank them for that.
“The tactics are working. I know that people are getting frustrated and tired of the restrictions but it’s not the right time to relax them just yet.
“We must persevere so that we can protect the NHS, contain and delay the spread of the virus, and save lives.
“Members of the LRF are working tirelessly to deliver essential services and support the most vulnerable and everyone is working together to help.
“Just last week we saw a concerted joint effort to quickly distribute personal protective equipment across the two counties after a large delivery arrived in Exeter at short notice.
“Anyone can catch the virus – anyone can spread the virus. So, by reducing contact it will help slow the spread. It is that simple.”