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‘This is a public health emergency, not a public holiday’ - plea for Norfolk to spend Easter at home

PUBLISHED: 07:25 10 April 2020 | UPDATED: 07:25 10 April 2020

Chief Constable Simon Bailey. Photo : Steve Adams

Chief Constable Simon Bailey. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

“This is a public health emergency, not a public holiday”.

Those are the sobering words of Norfolk’s police chief constable, as the county faces up to an Easter like no other as the spread of coronavirus continues to cost people their lives.

Hospital bosses, public health chiefs, police, council leaders and firefighters - members of the Norfolk Resilience Forum - have joined forces to deliver an Easter plea to people across the county: ‘Stay at home’.

The chief nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said the days ahead are “a critical time” and only by staying indoors to stop the spread of the deadly virus will the NHS be able to save lives.

The call for residents to continue to stay at home, comes as doctors and nurses on the frontline fighting coronavirus prepare to spend the bank holiday away from their loved ones, helping patients at the county’s hospitals.

Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella WilkinsonLouise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Professor Nancy Fontaine, the hospital’s chief nurse and director of infection prevention and control, said: “Our teams are working flat out to treat people with this virus, and the messages of support we’ve received from the public have been amazing: thank you to everyone who has been in touch or taken part in Clap for Our Carers.

“Now we’re coming up to a critical time: we need to be in the hospitals this weekend to beat this, but you need to stay at home.

“By respecting the lockdown you can help us keep the virus from spreading and ensure our teams can give treatment to those who need it.”

Traffic volumes on Norfolk’s roads fell by more than 85pc in the last week of March, but the weekend saw signs that a minority of people were starting to ignore advice.

NNUH chief nurse Professor Nancy Fontaine. Photo: NNUHNNUH chief nurse Professor Nancy Fontaine. Photo: NNUH

Vehicles on the road crept up by 5pc on the weekend just gone, compared to the weekend before. And with the Easter weekend ahead, the message is that people should not be tempted to head out.

Norfolk police chief constable Simon Bailey said: “While the vast majority of people are adhering to the guidelines and I would like to thank them for that, we know a small minority have not.

“I know it will be difficult for communities this weekend, especially as many of us would have been planning to get together with friends and relatives - but it is vital people understand that this is a public health emergency, not a public holiday.

“This Easter break, people must stay at home and continue social distancing. This means no gatherings of friends or family, stay in with those in your household and get together with others online instead.”

Stay away from the beaches: People in Norfolk are being urged not to head out this Easter weekend. Picture: Ian BurtStay away from the beaches: People in Norfolk are being urged not to head out this Easter weekend. Picture: Ian Burt

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk County Council’s director of public health, said: “Most people are staying at home, and are not making journeys or going out when it isn’t necessary.

“This is what you can do to protect yourself and your friends and family - your decisions and actions matter.

“You may think you’re one individual making one decision, but in fact you’re one of over 900,000 people in Norfolk making a decision.

“It only works when all of us make the right one to protect themselves and protect others. Let’s stay home together.”

Police at Wells beach checking if people have not been following restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Archant.Police at Wells beach checking if people have not been following restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Archant.

And the county’s fire service urged people to consider not having barbecues, given accidental fires can happen when weather is dry.

And Stuart Dark, West Norfolk Council’s cabinet member for emergency planning / Covid-19 response, urged people not to drive to beauty spots.

He said: “It is not appropriate to drive up to the coast and say you were doing your shopping and your exercise while you were there.

“The guidance is clear, you must stay in your local area to take your daily exercise including walking, jogging or a bike ride, and if you need to shop, you should do this as infrequently as possible and as locally as possible.”

The Broads may be tempting, but people should stay at home this Easter. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Broads may be tempting, but people should stay at home this Easter. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

What are the restrictions?

People should only leave the home for a small number of reasons:

• Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent 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, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person

• Travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

MORE: ‘Too many breaches of health order’ say police, amid barbecues and sunbathing

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