Suffolk’s Chief Constable has called on communities to comply with new government measures restricting people’s movements to tackle coronavirus.
Steve Jupp said protecting the NHS and the public must be the priority after the government last night (23 March 2020) ordered people to stay at home to stop the spread of the disease.
Public gatherings of more than two people who do not live together are prohibited, and shops selling non-essential items have been ordered to close.
New legislation has been introduced giving police powers to disperse public gatherings and fine those who do not follow the rules.
Mr Jupp said: “It is imperative people comply with these new measures to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed and to ensure lives are saved.
“The moves so far to limit social distancing have not had the necessary effect, with some people still going about their business as if the threat from coronavirus didn’t exist.
“It has to stop. We all need to work together to protect our NHS and other public services so that we can ensure we can help you.
“I appreciate the crisis we are facing is having a massive impact on people’s lives and the vast majority of people in Suffolk are making a real effort to do all they can to help themselves and others by heeding what has been said. I would now urge the small minority who have not done so to adhere to these new instructions from the Prime Minister.
“Our officers will be out in our communities as we are normally. We will use the opportunity to explain the new rules and discuss with people what they are doing, and why they are out.
“We will continue to work within our traditional policing model, with the consent of the public. The vast majority of the public understand why we may need to use the new powers. We will, of course, negotiate and convince before resorting to the law.
“We must not be complacent. I urge people in Suffolk to follow the advice which is being given, stay at home and help us help the national effort to protect you and our NHS.
“Finally, I would like to say how proud I am of my officers and staff for everything they are doing, along with all the NHS staff and other emergency services.”
The measures announced last night allow people to go out for shopping and basic necessities, daily exercise, any medical need and travelling to and from essential work.
What does this mean for me? Police will need to engage and encourage compliance and may disperse groups of more than two people who do not live with one another. Those who refuse may face a fine.
New powers will come into effect on Thursday – in the meantime officers will approach groups and stress the importance of following these rules.
Non-essential shops will be closed by Trading Standards – officers will support them if necessary.
Play parks and churches will be closed by local authorities.
Day-to-day policing continues