People advised to be cautious during Easter
People are being urged to follow the Government's guidance and keep themselves and their loved ones safe over the Easter break
Local partners working together to provide support during the pandemic, are advising people to be cautious this Easter.
Organisations across Swindon and Wiltshire are urging people to follow the Government's guidance and keep themselves and their loved ones safe over the Easter break.
Although the 'stay at home' rule has now lifted, this has been replaced by guidance that people should minimise travel, avoid making unnecessary trips and not stay away from home overnight at this stage.
Where people are planning to meet up with others over the Easter weekend and the school holidays, local partners are asking them to stick to the rules of social distancing and only meet others in the outdoors, in a maximum group of 6 people (Rule of 6) or two households.
Local partners are also urging people to rethink their plans if somewhere seems too busy, and consider visiting another day instead.
Kate Blackburn, Director of Public Health at Wiltshire Council, said:
Following the latest changes in restrictions on 29 March, we know lots of people will be looking forward to reuniting with family and friends that they may not have seen for some time.
Whilst we want people to enjoy the Easter break, it's important to remember that the current restrictions won't last forever but do remain crucial to follow at this moment. We would urge people to continue to take a responsible approach when meeting up with others or planning journeys, and maintain social distancing, regularly wash their hands and wear face coverings where appropriate.
There has been great progress with the vaccination programme, but being vaccinated doesn't mean that restrictions no longer apply, as you may still be able to pass on the virus even once you have had the vaccine. If we mingle closely with others or become too relaxed with the guidance, we could undo what we have all made huge sacrifices to achieve.
Steve Maddern, Swindon Borough Council's Director of Public Health, said:
With the Easter holidays starting this week, it's important for people to get their much-needed social contact and fresh air.
Outdoor exercise centres have reopened for people to play certain sports as well as grassroots clubs. Swindon also has plenty of amazing country parks for people to have picnics or go on walks with friends.
But everyone must remember to follow the COVID guidelines. You can only meet in groups of up to six people or two households and you must continue to keep your distance.
Swindon's coronavirus case rate is still high so it's important we do not get complacent over the Easter break.
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, said:
Firstly I want to say a huge thank you to our communities across Swindon and Wiltshire for the sacrifices they have made throughout the last year.
We know the past three months in particular have been very difficult for so many people, but the vast majority of our communities have played their part, sticking to the rules and limiting social contact with others. This has paid off and we have seen a significant reduction in the virus rates.
As we look forward to Easter, people can now meet outdoors (including in private gardens) in either a group of up to six people or a group comprising of two households. This is a really welcomed step but, as the Government has stressed, further relaxation of the rules will be led by the data and we must all keep taking personal responsibility for our actions.
We will continue with our proactive policing patrols and encourage everyone to make themselves aware of what is and is not permitted.
Our policing approach will continue to focus on where there are blatant breaches of the regulations, with a specific focus on gatherings that exceed the permitted numbers or within a premises, and intelligence that indicates people are staying away from home. These are expressively prohibited under the ongoing restrictions and we know these types of events also pose the greatest risk to public health.
The new Government guidance is that people should try to minimise "domestic travel", so although the "stay at home" message is no longer in place, the advice is that people should remain cautious and sensible.