'Now is not the time for complacency' - police warning ahead of roadmap rule change next week
Families across the North East region are being warned to stick to coronavirus rules ahead of a change in the restrictions on Monday, March 29.
The rules preventing small gatherings of people outdoors are set to be relaxed, with the rule of six coming back into force from Monday.
Assistant Chief Constable Neil Hutchison, of Northumbria Police, has praised the public for their compliance – but also issued a warning not to show complacency and a reminder that rules remain in force.
He said: “I want to take a moment to firstly thank the public for their efforts so far. It has been a difficult year and the support we have had is incredible.
“The vast majority have complied with the restrictions and will be looking forward to being able to socialise with family and friends.
“However, with restrictions set to ease around outdoor gatherings and Easter right around the corner, now is not the time for complacency.
“We all must continue to follow the rules and do everything we can to keep ourselves and others safe.”
The force’s officers have been busy preparing for the restrictions to ease and anticipate that beauty spots across the region will be popular areas for family and friends to meet up.
Extra patrols will be taking place in parks, the rural countryside and all along a coastline stretching from north Northumberland to the border of Durham to ensure that outside meetings are conducted in accordance with the regulations still in place.
In addition, the force’s pop-up police station will be visiting key areas, neighbourhood teams will support Operation Coastwatch in North Tyneside and officers will work alongside Nexus staff and the North East’s local authorities.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed the Government’s four-step roadmap out of lockdown in mid-February.
From Monday, outdoor sport facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen.
The “stay at home” order also ends at this time, replaced instead by “stay local” guidance.
ACC Hutchison added: “Many of the initiatives we have in place to tackle anti-social behaviour focus on holiday periods and when we begin to see warmer weather.
“But with Covid-19 restrictions in place and many popular places to visit closed, our beaches have already been busier than usual and we thought it was important to launch our initiatives early.
“Operation Coastwatch, which was launched at the start of March, will continue all through summer.
“We want people to be able to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with friends and family outdoors.
"Everyone should be able to feel confident that they can do so safely, so we will continue to patrol these areas to ensure that is the case.”
Northumbria Police has reminded the public that anti-social behaviour can be reported via the Tell Us Something page of the force website.