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Coronavirus: Some people still don’t grasp the severity of the current crisis - and their role within it

Having spent two weeks in self-isolation, it feels good to be on the traffic-free roads, heading out of London far away from the congestion and the increasing fear of contagion.

As I arrive in the beautiful sunny streets of Bath, the fear of coronavirus feels more remote. Perhaps that’s why some people here are relaxing in the sunshine, chatting on benches, meeting for a catch up in the city centre. But it’s a mistake to think this pandemic won’t affect us all in some way.

So today the police in England were given extra powers to enforce the coronavirus lockdown. I’ve come to follow officers from Avon and Somerset Police who are out on patrol, searching for anyone ignoring the warnings.

Today the police in England were given extra powers to enforce the coronavirus lockdown. Credit: ITV News

We soon spot a woman sunbathing in Victoria Park; She’s given a warning to told she must go home, but police officers can now issue fines of £60 - or even arrest someone who refuses to comply.

Alongside our colleagues from ITV West we send up a drone to film from the skies above Bath and it’s clear that the majority are obeying the instructions to stay at home. This usually bustling city, is now peaceful.

You can only leave home to exercise once a day, buy food, travel to work or for medical needs... Having a cigarette and a chat in the city centre is not one of the exemptions.

Standing at a safe distance, using a microphone on a long pile, I ask the woman sitting with her friend why she’s here, she tells me she’s just having a rest and eventually moves on. But some people obviously just don’t grasp the severity of the current crisis - and their role within it. Perhaps the threat of the law will help drive the message - and the people - home.

This crisis continues to raise many difficult questions. Credit: ITV News

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cullen from Avon and Somerset police tells me: “We police by consent, therefore we’re looking to firstly engage with the public and then explain what the new legislation is about, but then encourage them to go home, because by going indoors we know we’re protecting the NHS and saving lives.”

These officers are used to fighting crime, but now they’re on the frontline fighting coronavirus.

As we’re about to finish filming we come across some people on a bench.

They’re homeless so the stay at home rules can’t apply. The officers simply advise them to keep a safe distance from one another. The Home Office says police will always use discretion and common sense.

But one of the men turns to me frustrated and angry “if you want to tell homeless people to move on” he says “why don’t you give them somewhere to stay?”

And so this crisis continues to raise many difficult questions.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know