Just after midnight the changes to Government restrictions in relation to Coronavirus came into effect and members of the public are now able to spend more time outdoors, and more people will be returning to work.
Members of the public will be able to visit their local parks and open spaces and will also be able to spend time with one member of another household, provided it is on a one-to-one basis and as long as they adhere to strict social distancing guidelines at all times and stay two metres apart. People can familiarise themselves with the list of changes on the following website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing
The advice remains that everybody should continue to avoid public transport other than for essential journeys. Therefore, people should only make these journeys by cycling, walking or driving in a private vehicle. People also should check in advance of visiting places like National Parks and beaches to make sure they are prepared for visitors.
Despite a lessening of the restrictions in place the Government has stressed that individuals still can’t:
- Go on holiday in the UK
- Visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home in the Uk
- Visit the homes of friends and family, unless it’s to help a vulnerable person, for medical reasons, or to take a child to another household with whom parental responsibilities are shared
More stringent enforcement measures for non-compliance with the new rules have also come into effect.
Fines have been increased, and will now start at £100, which will be lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days. This will double on each further repeat offence up to £3,200.
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Carden said: “Throughout the last six weeks the force has taken a common sense approach to policing the legislative powers given to the police. We will continue to work with people and only use the powers as a last resort and when people are putting others at risk.
“Our officers will continue to be out in local communities engaging with the public; checking that people aren’t flouting the restrictions still in place and reminding people why those restrictions are in place and encouraging them to do the right thing and adhere to the regulations, which have been put in place to protect all of us.
“The majority of people on Merseyside have understood why the restrictions were introduced in the first place and have abided by them to protect their loved ones and I would urge them to carry on.
“Data obtained by the Merseyside Resilience Forum’s (MRF) Strategic Co-Ordinating Group (SCG) Health Intelligence cell, shows that the Merseyside region has a significantly higher death rate than England and the rest of the North West. And whilst infections and deaths are reducing, it appears that we are not coming down the other side of the epidemic curve as fast as other areas and regions.
“As a result we will continue to work together with the five local authorities across Merseyside, our partners in public health, and other emergency services, to urge people to continue to follow the stay at home where possible and maintain social distance to do our bit to reduce the spread of Covid-19 together.”
He added: “In the last couple of weeks we have had a number of complaints from members of the public about people speeding on the roads, and with the likelihood of increasing traffic we will be proactively policing our road networks to ensure people are keeping to the speed limit; not driving under the influence of drink or drugs, not using their mobile phone whilst driving and wearing their seatbelts.
“Despite the additional policing challenges we have faced we have continued to provide an effective, professional service to the communities of Merseyside.
“Crime across the board has come down by 20 per cent since lockdown began on 24 March.
Demand too has decreased by 12 per cent, whilst performance has increased by 10 percentage points up to 83 per cent. In total there have been 12,818 priority graded incidents during the lockdown, which is 17 per cent less than last year and priority response performance has increased by 12 per cent up from 45 per cent to 57 per cent, which shows the quality of service we have been able to deliver to members of community during this period.
“The decreases in crime and reported incidents have given us the opportunity to be more proactive in our policing. In the last six weeks we have seen our overall solved outcome rates (detections) increase by 27 per cent compared to the same period last year. Offence types with particularly higher solved rates include burglary, robbery, sexual offences and violence.
“We have also arrested 47 people who were wanted for various offences since the start of the lockdown and our Cannabis Dismantling Team has broken down 31 cannabis farms and seized more than 5000 cannabis plants, a 38 per cent increase in the number of cannabis plants seized during the lockdown period compared to the same period last year.
“Going forward we will continue to maintain our proactivity -targeting criminals to protect our communities.
• The Government’s COVID-19 Recovery strategy can be read online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy
• People in the shielded group with very specific medical conditions who are likely to be at the greatest risk of serious complications from coronavirus, have been advised to continue to shield until the end of June and to do everything they can to stay at home. The Government has a support scheme in place to provide help with access to food and basic supplies, care, medicines and social support
• This guidance is for people in England. When visiting Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, you must adhere to the advice of the devolved administrations at all times
o From today (Wednesday, 13 May), people in England are able to:
o Spend time outdoors, including exercise, with one person who is not in your household as long as you stay two metres apart
o Exercise more than once a day
o Go for a picnic, to sunbathe or relax and read a book
o Spend time at sports courts, including outdoor tennis, basketball courts and golf courses
Go fishing on their own, with their household, or with one other person while adhering to social distancing rules
o Drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance. You can travel to outdoor open spaces, in a private vehicle, alone or with members of your own household.
Travel to beaches and beauty spots. But you should check first if facilities, such as car parks, are open to receive visitors
o Travel to the countryside – but continue to follow the Countryside Code by respecting the local community and protecting the natural environment
o Go swimming in either lakes or the sea as part of daily exercise provided that social distancing guidelines are observed – advice against using public indoor and outdoor pools remains in place
• This new provision enabling increased outdoor activity does not allow people to:
o Go on holiday
o Visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home
o Visit the homes of friends and family, unless it’s to help a vulnerable person, for medical reasons, or to take a child to another household with whom parental responsibilities are shared
o Gather with more than one member of another household for recreational reasons e.g. to play group sports
o Swim in a public pool
o Use a playground or outdoor gym
o Exercise in an indoor fitness studio, gym, swimming pool, or other indoor leisure centres or facilities
o Visit a private or ticketed attraction
• Access to green spaces guidance can be read online and has been updated today (Wednesday 13 May: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-guidance-on-access-to-green-spaces)
• Businesses such as pubs, clubs, restaurants, and theatres will also remain closed.
• Owners and operators of public spaces will need to consider the impact of any new measures on people with disabilities and other affected groups and ensure clear information is made available to all users on how they can continue to access public places in a safe way.
• The Safer Public Places guidance also encourages owners and operators of public places to increase cleaning at touch points such as handrails and gates, and to ensure there are facilities available for people to maintain good hygiene. Suggestions include replacing hand dryers with paper towels, minimising use of portable toilets and increasing rubbish collections in public places