Warning for people to 'stay disciplined' over Easter weekend
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
People in Suffolk and Essex are being urged to "stay disciplined" and use "carefully considered judgement" over the Easter weekend to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Suffolk police said its approach will "adjust appropriately" to the new regulations, which began on Monday, March 29.
The 'stay at home' rule is now at an end, and up to six people or two households can meet outside in parks and private gardens.
People can also now take part in a number of outdoor and organised sports.
The government guidance is to minimise travel but police said it is important people understand that this is guidance, so officers will not be able to enforce this element of it.
Temporary Superintendent Simon Mills urged people not to be complacent.
"It’s fair to say that following on from the change in restrictions nationwide and levels of coronavirus virus falling in recent weeks, our policing approach will also adjust appropriately," he said.
"However, we will still use the tried and tested four Es approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging and will not hesitate to take enforcement action where necessary, where there is a blatant or persistent disregard for the law.
"We, like we hope the people of Suffolk, are cautiously optimistic about the future but we still cannot be complacent and we urge you to use carefully considered judgement.
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"Minimise travel, don’t car share, avoid places that are likely to be busy, stay outdoors and wherever you are please return home at the end of the day with no overnight stays."
Temp Supt Mills added that the force will have a visible presence in places likely to see crowds over the bank holiday weekend.
"With Easter this weekend, we will be focusing on those locations that are likely to draw large numbers of people over the long weekend so we will have visible presence," he said.
"We will also focus on breaches of the rules where indoor gatherings are concerned such as parties or profit-motivated events and/or raves.
"Our officers have always tried to strike the right balance between encouraging people to stay within the rules and enforcing them more rigorously where there have been breaches.
"We still need to guard against complacency such as the threat of new variants and while the roadmap rolls out over the coming weeks, we still need to protect ourselves, each other and the NHS by abiding by the restrictions.
"I’d urge everyone to continue to play their part and do the right thing as the vast majority of the people of Suffolk have done over the past 12 months.”
In Essex, Chief Constable BJ Harrington had a similar message, urging people in the county to "not mess this up now."
Throughout the past year, Essex Police officers have attended 14,000 coronavirus-related incidents, issued 1,200 fines and made 59 arrests.
Mr Harrington said: "The last 12 months have been really difficult.
"Families and friends have been kept apart and now we have a chance to meet up outdoors again for the first time, in groups of no more than six people or two households.
“Essex Police officers and staff will be out doing additional patrols to keep you safe but if you spot any clear and blatant breaches of the Covid-19 regulations you can contact us on digital 101 or by phone.
“If everyone in Essex keeps playing their part, we will get our lives back to normal and then we can stay focused on catching criminals – that’s what we are here for, and we know that’s what you want us to do. So, please, let’s not mess this up now."