Police, fire and local authority leaders urge people not to become complacent
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Staffordshire Police, together with local authority leaders and fire chiefs across Stoke-on-Trent are urging people not to become complacent and ‘take their foot off the gas’ by continuing to stay at home and save lives and exercise close to home.
The renewed appeal for the continuing support of local communities, comes as the warm weather is set to continue into the weekend.
In Stoke-on-Trent, the city council’s Trading Standards officers have sent letters to all pubs across the city and are operating a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to any found to be holding a lock in, after receiving 54 complaints about 31 pubs since coronavirus legislation came into force last month. The letter tells pubs they must stay closed, unless they have specific ‘off sales’ conditions on their licence which means they can supply alcohol providing they meet social distancing guidelines. If they flout the guidelines, they can be prosecuted, can receive a fine and/or lose both the licence for the premises and the licensee’s personal licence. Pubs are advised that any customers would also be flouting restrictions, and may face the potential for police action.
The city council has also experienced problems with people still using playgrounds in the city. Following government guidance last month, all play areas were temporarily closed where physically possible and additional signs were put up to inform the public. However, the council has been forced to replace the locks to a play area off Brakespeare Street, Goldenhill, on three occasions after vandals smashed them. Parents have also been lifting children over fences to get to the equipment at some play areas even though the site is locked off. The council has also recently experienced problems with people congregating and using the play equipment in the park at the Grange, in Cobridge.
Meanwhile, a tenant in Union Court, Hanley, has been served with a Community Protection Warning after he allowed people in to the block and to his flat, therefore breaking the COVID-19 guidelines. The warning was issued in a joint move between the council and police and there have been no further breaches since.
Following updated guidance from government, the authority is to reopen Carmountside cemetery on Saturday and Sunday and on public bank holidays during May between 8am and 5pm to enable residents to visit the cemetery to pay their respects to their loved ones. People are asked to maintain social distancing at all times and are being reminded not to participate in any activities not linked to the bereavement process such as dog walking or general exercise at the site. District cemeteries have remained open during the outbreak.
Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “We will be entering the sixth week of the nationwide lockdown next week and we all have to continue taking it really seriously and not take our foot off the gas. You don’t need me to remind you there are hundreds of people dying every day in the country, but if we all work together, we can get through this. The government have been clear that staying at home in lockdown is an instruction, not a request, and getting complacent at this stage even in the slightest could have deadly consequences for weeks to come.
“The playgrounds are shut at the moment because it's really difficult, as a council, to keep them clean and that is why the play areas we can close have closed. The vast majority of people are being brilliant and observing the lockdown. Myself and our partners at the police and fire service have been clear that our top priority right now is to keep people safe, and we are willing to take whatever action is necessary to ensure we can do that.”
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer, Becci Bryant, said: “It’s important people stay at home and stay safe. With more people at home fire safety is as important as ever and businesses are being encouraged to review their fire safety precautions.
“Firefighters are doing their bit to support the vulnerable across Staffordshire and we must all pull together to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Gareth Morgan said: “We want to thank the vast majority of people in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent who have been brilliant and followed the government guidelines which are designed to stop the spread of Covid-19, protect the NHS and save lives.
“Our guidance has been clear since the restrictions were introduced and we are urging people to continue to stay at home and save lives, and when taking their daily exercise to do so in their local area and only with members of their own household. Now is not the time for people to be making unnecessary journeys.
“We don’t want a tiny minority to undo all the efforts and sacrifices already made by so many people to stop the spread of this disease and to save lives.”