People in the West Country have been urged to stay indoors this weekend even if the weather is nice - or face police punishment.

The rules from the Government, which came into force on Monday (March 23), state you may only leave your home for four reasons:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible

  • one form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household

  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person

  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home

A spot check being conducted in central Bristol. Credit: PA

In order to enforce the restrictions, officers have been conducting spot checks across the region to ensure drivers are complying - including Bristol, Plymouth, Penzance and Cullompton.

  • Watch ITV West Country reporter Richard Payne's full report on Avon and Somerset Police patrolling Bath:

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, of Devon and Cornwall Police, has since issued a warning - reminding people to either heed the advice or risk being fined.

Stay at home. If you need to go outside, stay local. That’s for shopping or light exercise.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer

Last weekend, a number of people decided to make the most of the sunny weather by visiting West Country tourist attractions - including Weston-super-Mare beach and Tregantle beach in Cornwall.

Although prior to the lockdown, pictures of crowds of people out enjoying the sunshine prompted a backlash on social media.

Chief Constable Sawyer also said that those people who do not comply with the restrictions over the weekend face potential punishments - including fines.

If they decline [to return home], we can potentially use reasonable force. I wouldn’t want to do that, and nobody wants that, but if they still refuse, we would issue a ticket or fine.

Chief Constable ShaunSawyer

The RNLI has also announced it is pulling its lifeguards off beach patrols, in response to the lockdown.

The charity said it hopes this will deter members of the public from visiting beaches this weekend, or any other, while restrictions are in place.

This is to ensure lifeguards adhere to the Government’s instructions to limit contact between people and encourage the public to do the same. This decision will affect approximately 390 trained lifeguards who were ready to patrol beaches in the next few weeks and we will be working with them to understand what this means for them. We hope that once the current situation changes, and government guidance allows, we will be able to re-establish the lifeguard service and employ those lifeguards onto the beaches. >

RNLI statement

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the West Country, including case numbers, event cancellations and venue closures, click here.

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