Residents are being urged to follow the current lockdown restrictions in the wake of many flouting the rules over the weekend.
The warning comes from city and health leaders at Stoke-on-Trent City Council who say it is crucial that residents continue to stick to the rules if the national roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions is to be achieved.
Warm weather across the city over the past weekend saw parks overcrowded and groups of people from different households meeting up outside.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “We understand many people have lockdown fatigue, but unfortunately this pandemic is not over yet. We are seeing deliberate acts of defiance and rule breaking across the city and this will not be tolerated.
“On March 29 when most schools start to break up for the Easter holidays, outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either six people (the ‘rule of six’) or two households will be allowed, making it easier for friends and families to meet outside. This is only a few weeks’ time; breaking rules now will only jeopardise the easing of these restrictions.”
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “We were all given hope last week with the announcement of the roadmap, however the roadmap is based on data not dates. Our seven-day coronavirus rate has seen an increase of 6.4% per cent on the previous seven days and our positivity has only slightly decreased. I urge all residents to continue to follow the rules, get tested weekly and remember hands, face, space.”
This comes as Staffordshire Police issued a total of 42 fixed-penalty notices in relation to Covid-19 breaches in Stoke-on-Trent between February 22 and February 28.
Incidents included individuals caught travelling without good reason to the city from areas such as Middlesex, Essex, and Coventry. Aside from those travelling into the Potteries, fixed penalty notices were also issued to residents including two women at a property in Chell where officers were told a house party was taking place. During that incident a number of people were found in the garden and seven inside who all ran off when the force arrived. In Longton officers issued fines after finding six men in one house – five of whom were from other households.
Meanwhile senior officers say they are mindful of the improving weather – as witnessed over the previous weekend – with neighbourhood teams tasked to ensure the national rules are followed.
Chief Inspector Mark Barlow, commander of Stoke-on-Trent North Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Naturally with the warmer weather over the weekend more people wanted to be outside. As such we monitored various green spaces across the area and were on hand to provide education to make sure people were sticking to the national rules.
“I am pleased to report that the vast majority of residents in the area my team polices are staying a home and doing their bit. When breaches are reported we will respond accordingly and take enforcement action where necessary.”
Chief Inspector Rob Hessell, commander of Stoke-on-Trent South Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We are all keen for normality to return to the Potteries but I must urge people to keep doing the right thing and not put their health, or that or others, at risk. The most common issues we see are households mixing and gatherings and whilst our officers strive to educate residents, we will also issue fixed penalty notices where necessary.”
“At the moment there is light at the end of the tunnel and people in Stoke-on-Trent should be proud of the sacrifices they have made so far. Local officers will continue to be proactive in making sure people are following the rules.”
With Mother’s Day falling next weekend, residents are reminded not to mix households indoors or outdoors and not to plan any family gatherings.
Council leader Abi Brown added: “Even though it is tough that we cannot see family at this current time, we soon will if we all continue to follow the rules. Even if you have had your vaccine, you still shouldn’t be mixing with other households. Make sure a bunch of flowers is all you give to your mum this Mother’s Day.”