‘Stay local’ – Welsh affairs lead urges public to follow new guidance

Police officers in Wales will continue to do their best to ensure people follow lockdown guidelines, says Mark Bleasdale, the Police Federation’s Welsh affairs lead.

Mark, commenting after the Welsh Government announced an easing of lockdown rules in Wales from today, also called on residents to do their bit by staying in their local areas and not ‘generally travelling more than five miles’ as set out by First Minister Mark Drakeford.

He also asked people from outside of Wales to avoid visiting for a little longer.

“The public have been very supportive of police officers during the current crisis and we hope that continues,” says Mark, “People have generally accepted the restrictions on their daily lives as part of a concerted effort to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“Where officers have found that people are not following the guidelines they have relied on the Four Es of engaging with them, explaining how they are breaking the rules, encouraging them to follow the guidance and, as a last resort, using enforcement such as telling them to go home or issuing a fine.

“We fully understand that people will want to make the most of the little bit of extra freedom the easing of the lockdown rules will bring and that they want to see their families and friends but we must all follow the guidelines. People living in Wales need to stay local and we would urge those living beyond our borders just to help us all stay well and keep safe by holding off a little longer before visiting us again.”

Mr Drakeford, announcing the third review of the lockdown restrictions on Friday lunchtime, said people could now meet others from different households but urged them to do so outside, to remain two metres apart and to continue to wash their hands. He told shops and businesses to use the three weeks until the next review of lockdown restrictions to prepare for re-opening.

He also praised police for the ‘vital role’ they had played during the pandemic.

Mark Bleasdale welcomed the First Minister’s comments. He said: “Police officers have had a difficult role in recent months, they have put their own health and wellbeing on the line as they have worked on the front-line, helping protect the public and our health services.

“Even though we are only just seeing a slight easing of the lockdown restrictions, police officers have already been noticing a steady increase in traffic on the roads and the Bank Holiday weekend saw significant extra demands placed on them with people travelling from as far away as Manchester, Birkenhead and the West Midlands to visit beaches in North Wales.

“We are also aware of an increase in the number of calls to some control rooms from members of the public reporting breaches of the lockdown rules. We would just urge the public to help us all by abiding by the new guidance.”