Bank holiday plea as residents tempted out by warm weather
Police chiefs and MPs across the Black Country and Staffordshire are urging residents to not jeopardise progress made in the fight against coronavirus over the first bank holiday weekend since restrictions were eased.
Eased lockdown rules now allow people to travel to parks and green spaces for picnics, increase their daily exercise and meet one person from outside their household maintaining the two metre social distance.
Green spaces and parks such as Walsall Arboretum, Cannock Chase, Himley Park, Kinver Edge, Sandwell Valley and Wolverhampton's West Park have been busy over recent days as people enjoyed some of the hottest days of the year so far.
Dudley Council say Himley Park is seeing 'above normal' levels of visitors. People have been refused entry as the car park fills up, officials say.
Councillor Ian Kettle said: “If people are visiting Himley, it is crucial that they follow social distancing rules and on occasions it is absolutely necessary to limit people coming into the park to make sure this happens.”
But as the warm weather is set to continue – residents in the region have been asked to stick to the Government guidelines to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Senior police chiefs are reinforcing the call for the public to keep their distance from others, especially where large numbers of visitors have congregated at popular locations. West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson urged people to remember why the guidance is in place.
Mr Thompson said: “Lets remember why we are doing this to reduce the risk of infection.
“The public have done really well and we need people to keep going. We have seen some examples of people congregating in big groups – and I recognise it is difficult for young people to do the things they want to do.
“We also know people will want to travel a bit further afield now to beaches and visit other areas.
“I am asking people to recognise that other people will have that idea too – maybe miss this one out and spend time in your garden this time.
“The sheer number we have seen out over the last few days, think about you are doing in the West Midlands but also think about the pressure on other police forces.”
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said: "This bank holiday it is vital that people stick to the rules of the lockdown and stay at home where possible.
“However tempting it is to go out, see friends and family – we need to maintain social distancing at this time to prevent the spread of this virus.
“This weekend, follow the guidance, stay at home, keep up social distancing and save lives.”
Chief Inspector Becky Hyde, area commander for Cannock Chase at Staffordshire Police, said: "Covid-19 has not gone away and we all have a duty to protect ourselves, our families and other members of our community who may be more vulnerable. Overall, people have been really good and acted responsibly in public places and it’s important the good work is not undone.”
MPs across the Black Country and Staffordshire have also advised residents to enjoy their weekend outdoors with their household – but not risk a second peak of infections by mixing with others.
MP for Lichfield, Michael Fabricant, said: "Go out, enjoy yourself, but Covid-19 is still very much in the community. People can be contagious, highly contagious, without showing symptoms whatsoever.
"If we don't take precautions then we will get an increase in cross-infection and this could precede another spike in infections, and set us back two months and risks overwhelming the NHS which thankfully, it did not do last time."
Dudley North MP, Marco Longhi, said: “I would encourage people to get out and about but sensibly. But the more we move about the more we give the opportunity for the virus to spread.
“Let’s not throw away what we’ve achieved because a second peak – and another imposed lockdown – would be devastating for the economy and for everyone in terms of their jobs and mental health.”
West Bromwich West MP Shaun Bailey, said: “It’s going to be really tempting as the weather is really nice – but just think about it, it is a collective effort, to beat this we need to work together.
“The more we stick to the rules now the quicker we get through it. We can’t jeopardise this now by going on a mad one over the bank holiday weekend.”
Eddie Hughes, Walsall North MP, said: “If you think you can go somewhere and remain distant – and you’re able to wash your hands – then it’s a good thing to do for their mental health and physical health.
“But you can’t expect to go somewhere where hundreds of people are going to be and remain distant.”
While Wolverhampton South West MP, Stuart Anderson, who himself suffered coronavirus symptoms, added: "This hot Bank Holiday weekend, I am pleading with people to go out for a walk, do your exercise, but stay in your family groups.
"Do everything you can do but do not see it as a holiday weekend from the rules."