Families urged to stick to lockdown during VE Day bank holiday weekend
PUBLISHED: 06:00 08 May 2020
Archant Norfolk © 2015
Households are being urged to continue to adhere to coronavirus restrictions over the bank holiday weekend amid fears some may be tempted to break the rules by warm weather and talk of easing lockdown.
The Friday bank holiday marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day, which, before the coronavirus pandemic, was set to be a weekend of festivities and street parties to celebrate the anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.
However with VE Day forecast to be bathed in glorious sunshine and temperatures expected to soar up to 26C (78.8F), with the fine spell continuing into Saturday, people are being warned to stick to the rules and not travel.
MORE: All the ways to mark VE Day in Norfolk and Waveney this year
Norfolk chief constable Simon Bailey said: “The restrictions are still there and for a very good reason. I think the way the county has adhered to them is demonstrated in the fact that we have one of the lowest death rates per 100,000 in the country.
“Let’s not go and spoil it now by ignoring the advice and guidance. It is there to save lives and protect the NHS. We’ve done really well, let’s continue doing it.”
Under the guidelines, you should only leave your house for very limited reasons, including shopping for basic necessities, medical needs, travelling to work if you cannot work from home and one form of exercise a day.
People are urged against travelling to other households to see family and friends or visiting tourist spots or public open spaces to meet up or sunbathe.
Over the Easter bank holiday weekend police issued 536 warnings relating to the restrictions in Norfolk and received 1,261 calls from members of the public concerned that people were not following social distancing guidelines.
Mr Bailey said people should stay away from tourist areas and that restrictions on social gatherings covered having visitors over for barbecues and VE Day celebrations, including street parties. Officers will be on patrol throughout the weekend to “reassure, inform and engage” with people about the rules.
He said: “We will be policing in exactly the same way. There will be officers out patrolling the hot spots where we see there is a greater risk.”
MORE: How Norfolk churches are commemorating VE day
North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker urged people not to travel to the coast or resorts and said police would turn back anyone breaking the guidelines.
He said: “I have been in touch with the chief constable and they are going to police the area just like we did over the Easter weekend. Officers will be on patrol and who have travelled to our area making unnecessary, non-essential trips will be turned around and sent away.”
Seven weeks into lockdown families are anxious for an easing on the restrictions, but prime minister Boris Johnson, who is expected to make an announcement on Sunday, has told the cabinet the government will “advance with maximum caution” in considering any easing of the lockdown measures.
The prime minister said the government would not do anything that risks a second peak, according to No 10. It is understood any easing of the guidelines next week will be very limited, and rules could be tightened again if required.
MORE: What now? Norfolk study reveals possible blueprint for ending lockdown
Ahead of the announcement Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk County Council’s head of public health, said she was anxious that people could be tempted to ignore lockdown restrictions.
She said: “It will be up to the government to decide, but while we are making good progress I do not think we clearly tick off all five points.
“I think we are seeing evidence that the infection rate is slowing and we are doing more testing but not on the scale we would like to be.”
She added: “The bank holiday will be very appealing with the weather nice, but while we are past the peak we are not at the level we were when lockdown started, so we must not let it slip now.”
Mr Baker said: “I know it is really difficult and tough and people are fed up with it, and there is the temptation to want to go further afield, but let’s not undo the fantastic work that we have managed to do so far.”
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