'These are not guidelines, this is the law': Public told to stay at home over Easter weekend

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry

The public has been urged to stay at home to help save lives by resisting the temptation to travel over Easter as the country remains in lockdown as part of strict measures to control the coronavirus outbreak.

As well as people making trips abroad, the Easter weekend would traditionally see hundreds of thousands of people enjoy staycations in the UK, as well as flock to beauty spots across the country.

Instead, lockdown rules in place mean the public are being urged to only leave their homes if it is necessary and are being told to adopt social distancing measures when they do.

Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley has said the force will now ramp up the enforcement of coronavirus regulations.

Mr Adderley said the “three-week grace period is over”, and people in the county could now face fines or a criminal record.

Speaking about the new approach, Mr Adderley said: "These are not guidelines anymore. This is the law.

He said: "By going out and disobeying the law you are increasing the chances of spreading this coronavirus and causing many more deaths, unnecessary deaths."

He added: "We haven’t issued any fixed penalty notices, but we have charged a number of people with Covid-related offences.

"We’ve had examples of people sunbathing in the park, having barbecues in the park, we’ve had large gatherings of family members.

"To those people, I am saying ‘your time is up’."

The Police chief has said his force is only "a few days away" from introducing measures such as road blocks and searching shopping trolleys as people continue to flout the coronavirus regulations.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, he said: "I really need to emphasise the point, this is about saving people’s lives, this is the really serious end of what we do.

"The role of the police is to preserve lives and protect property and we have to do that and we will do that.

"If things don’t improve, and we don’t get the compliance we would expect, then the next stage will be road blocks and it will be stopping people to ask why they are going, where they’re going.

"This is about reasonableness and if people are not reasonable in terms of the journeys and the trips they are taking, they are going to fall foul of the law.

Despite forecasting that temperatures could reach up to 25C in some parts of the country over the weekend, the Met Office emphasised people should follow the Government’s strict lockdown rules.

  • What you can and can't do during the three-week coronavirus UK lockdown

The Easter weekend is also typically one of the busiest for the UK’s roads and tourist destinations.

But an AA survey has suggested that more than 20 million Easter getaway journeys will be scrapped this year as families abandon holiday plans.

Rail companies Northern and TransPennine Express have joined forces with the British Transport Police to launch a campaign reminding people it is “not acceptable” to use services for leisure activities this weekend.

Train operators have introduced amended timetables to help key workers get around and those needing to make essential journeys.

The National Trust also urged people to stay at home. Credit: PA

But they said passenger numbers "rose dramatically" during last weekend’s good weather as some people ignored official advice and headed to the coast and beauty spots.

Superintendent Glen Alderson, of British Transport Police, said there would be an increased presence of officers at popular stations over the weekend to ensure people followed government advice.

Meanwhile, the National Trust also urged people to stay at home, with all its properties, gardens and beauty spots already closed during the nationwide lockdown.

Police stop to move on two women on Primrose Hill, London on Sunday 5 April. Credit: PA

National Trust director general Hilary McGrady said: “We know how sad our members and visitors are that they can’t travel to their favourite places to mark Easter and celebrate the arrival of spring this year, but our biggest priority has to be staying at home to help our NHS and keep ourselves and one another safe.

"During the closure we are still looking after the places people love, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming them back when it’s time."

In London, where good weather is predicted this weekend, people were reminded that the reduced service running on the capital’s transport network was there only for critical workers.

The number of people using Tube and rail services has plummeted by around 95%, while bus usage has fallen by around 85%, Transport for London said.

In Wales, first minister Mark Drakeford joined council leaders and emergency and health services in signing a letter addressed to the Welsh people urging them not to break lockdown rules.

They wrote: "These rules are there to protect you and your loved ones. For most people the virus will cause a mild illness, but there’s a large number of people – children, adults and grandparents – who are at risk of serious illness if they are exposed."

The number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the UK. Credit: PA Graphics

Met Office meteorologist Luke Miall, said that the Easter weekend would get off to a warm start before gradually becoming cooler.

Temperatures could reach 24 or 25C in southern areas on Good Friday, with the risk of some showers in parts of Scotland, the North East and the Midlands by the afternoon.

The south will also be warm on Saturday, with conditions cooler elsewhere, and the risk of showers from mid-Wales northward as the day goes on.

On Easter Sunday temperatures will be cooler across the country and the focus of showers will be more on England and Wales.

By Monday temperatures will sink lower still, falling to around 14 or 15C in the South, with most places being drier.

Mr Miall said: "Despite the weather being tempting, the advice is to stay home and stay safe and remember to do that."

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