Lockdown could be lifted in three weeks - if we all stick to it, says police chief
THE coronavirus lockdown could be lifted in three weeks if everyone obeys the law and stays at home in the meantime, says the chief constable of Avon and Somerset police.
Andy Marsh is appealing to residents not to drive or visit resorts and beauty spots to help prevent the spread of the disease.
In a Facebook Live broadcast with police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens yesterday, Mr Marsh also voiced fears domestic abuse and other crimes against vulnerable people could rise amid mounting tensions over the next few weeks.
But he said the force was “ready to respond”, would continue to investigate offences and its 999 emergency and 101 non-urgent response was being fully maintained.
“It is important to put across the spirit of what is intended in the legislation,” Mr Marsh said.
“The idea is to prevent transmission of the virus from household to household, so we want people to stay at home as much as possible.
“We know people need to get out so they can exercise once a day, but once people start using their cars they start coming into contact with petrol stations and pumps and they will generally want to go to similar places.
“Weston-super-Mare seafront was packed before some common sense broke out and it was realised that was not sensible.
“Where people are driving 30 minutes to an hour to get to some beauty spots in Somerset to do some exercise, they are gathering around a ticket machine and they’re coming into contact with each other as they squeeze in and out of their cars as they get congested.
“So we are urging people to please follow the spirit of this legislation, use your common sense and stay at home as far as possible.
“However inconvenient it is and how much of a nuisance it’s going to be, it is for three weeks, and if we give it a really good go with compliance then hopefully will see virus transmission flatten off and the Government will be able to release these measures.
“It is tough. I’ve got teenagers at home. There are things they want to do and I’m saying no.
“My heart absolutely goes out to people with very young children you cannot reason with at all in a much more confined space.
“I would say thank you so much for complying.
“If we all stay at home as much as possible then we will get through this quicker.”
Mr Marsh said the vast majority were complying with the new restrictions.
He said: “We have found real strength of solidarity and public support and a real will to do our very best to close this virus down.
“A small number are thinking it might be fun to play games and try to work around the rules but actually this is serious.
“We are doing it to save lives and to protect our NHS.
“There is also a very small criminal minority we are working very hard to clamp down on and we have made a number of good arrests of people trying to take advantage of the situation, and we will continue to do that.
“We’ve got lots and lots of officers and PCSOs in the community.”
He said 60 new officers and 32 new police and community support officers had just started working for the force weeks ahead of schedule, giving up a week’s leave to join patrols.
Mr Marsh said front-line officers would have the “very best” personal protective equipment imminently
“There is not a national shortage. I am told there is a stockpile, which is a distribution problem,” the chief constable said.
“We know the NHS is the first priority and clearly we would not want to elbow in in front of them but I want my staff to have the things they need.
“We are told there is no problem with supply and it is coming very quickly.
“This is an incredibly stressful time, so we need to be kind to each other and look after each other.
“We are concerned these would be the sort of circumstances under which we would expect to see tensions and potential increases in all crimes against the vulnerable.
“We will continue to investigate those offences, including online child abuse.
“If there is a crime happening and you’re worried about it, you should ring 101, or 999 if it’s an emergency.
“We are not stopping that work.”
Ms Mountstevens said: “This is challenging for all of us, it’s a really tough time.
“Compassion, kindness and a bit of niceness really go a long way.
“We will get through this together and we will be a stronger society because of it.”
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service