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'Not your normal bank holiday weekend': Warning issued to stay home as weather improves

By James Vukmirovic | Dudley | Coronavirus | Published:

This is not a normal bank holiday weekend – leaders have stated, as people are urged not to travel to the countryside or popular parks.

Police were sent to Cannock Chase visitor centre to ask people to go home

As the weather looks to improve, police will be patrolling well-known parks and grasslands to make sure people are not flouting the lockdown rules this weekend – and local council leaders have re-enforced the message that everyone should stay at home to save lives.

West Midlands Police is encouraging people to follow the government advice.

A spokesman said: "We appreciate it's Easter weekend, but let's all do what we have to and listen to the advice so we can all see our families sooner. As a community, we need to work together to alleviate this horrible virus."

Staffordshire Police is also urging people not to visit places such as Cannock Chase, the Roaches, Downs Banks and other beauty spots.

Assistant chief constable Simon Tweats said: "Please stay at home unless you have to go out. The majority of people have been great and understand why this is so important for us all to cooperate to protect our NHS and keep us all safe. We will deal with those who ignore the restrictions and don’t want a small minority to risk further spread of Covid-19."

Council leaders across the Black Country and Staffordshire have also said everyone should be responsible for preventing the spread of coronavirus.

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Councillor Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council said: "This weekend is not one for meeting up with friends and family or heading out for a day at the park.

"It is one where we continue to do our bit to protect the NHS by staying at home and saving lives.

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"For now our parks and open spaces will remain open and people are welcome to walk, cycle or run through them but they must not stay or congregate under any circumstances.

"This is something that is constantly under review and I will not hesitate to close parks if people are unable to follow these very simple rules."

John Denley, Wolverhampton Council's director of public health, added: "For the vast majority of us, social distancing has become the new norm and we are slowly getting used to life with these restrictions in place."

"We all understand what is at stake if we ignore the rules.

"But for those who still don’t understand the gravity of the situation, let me remind you, that this weekend isn’t your normal Bank Holiday weekend."

Councillor Yvonne Davies, Sandwell Council leader, said there was a real risk that some people might start to forget the dangers and relax their behaviour.

She said: "I cannot emphasise strongly enough just how vital it is to stringently follow the stay at home and social distancing guidelines.

"While most people have followed advice on social distancing and staying at home there are, unbelievably, still some who ignore the rules.

"Those people are putting themselves and their community, including their own loved ones, at serious risk and people will die."

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said measures had been put in place to deter people from congregating to public spaces over the weekend.

He said: "Preventing the spread of coronavirus is a national effort and one we are all responsible for.

"Himley and Hall and Park is already closed to the public and I have ordered Stevens Park in Quarry Bank to close for a minimum of 48 hours to deter people from congregating there."

Councillor Patrick Farrington, leader of Stafford Borough Council, added: "I appreciate this is made more difficult with good weather over an Easter Bank Holiday, but the message remains the same: stay home this bank holiday weekend.

“On Thursday evenings, millions of people have been clapping to show their appreciation of our NHS workers. So why anyone would want to flout the government guidelines and risk adding to the strain on our doctors, nurses and other NHS workers is beyond me."

Councillor Philip Atkins, Staffordshire County Council leader, thanked residents for their response to the current government restrictions.

He said: “Staffordshire residents have, on the whole, been acting responsibly in keeping to the Government restrictions.

"We would like to thank them for responding so well and ask them to continue acting responsibly and not to travel to our country parks or beauty spots.

“We all understand this is a difficult time, but these restrictions are vital to prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect their families, our communities and the NHS.”

West Midlands Railway is also reminding passengers that only essential journeys are allowed this Easter weekend as coronavirus travel restrictions continue.

The operator is also warning those essential workers still travelling to check their journeys as Network Rail undertakes three days of major engineering works at Wolverhampton – meaning there will be no trains running to or from the station.

Jonny Wiseman, customer experience director for West Midlands Railway, said: “We understand many people would usually plan to meet up with friends and family at Easter but the government advice is clear that only truly essential journeys can be made.

“Social visits are not essential travel and so we are urging our customers to do their catching up this Easter over the phone or online. This will help stop the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives.”

James Vukmirovic

By James Vukmirovic
Community Reporter - @jamesvukmirovic

Community Reporter at the Express & Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Wolverhampton. Contact me at james.vukmirovic@expressandstar.co.uk.

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