Increasing number of people socialising in groups ahead of lockdown rule changes police say

Northumbria Police has urged people to continue sticking to social distancing rules, as officers deal with a rising number of people socialising in groups

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 4:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 4:24 pm
Assistant Chief Constable Neil Hutchison/Photo: Northumbria Police

Police have asked people to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines ahead of the upcoming relaxations to lockdown rules, as officers experienced an increase in incidents of people socialising in groups.

According to the current restrictions, people can exercise once a day with their household or one other person, and should stay in their local area.

The warning comes after the unusually warm weather over the weekend drew crowds to the coast at Roker and Seaburn.

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Assistant Chief Constable Neil Hutchinson from Northumbria Police said that patrols have had to deal with a rising number of incidents of people socialising in groups and has urged the public to keep following the rules.

In a statement he said: “It is only natural people will want to enjoy the improving weather – but we would urge that everyone does so safely by continuing to follow the Government restrictions and guidance which have now been in place for some time.

“This includes only leaving home for essential reasons. When it comes to outdoor exercise, this should be carried out on your own, socially-distanced with one other person, or with your household/bubble.

“Unfortunately, our patrols have had to respond to an increasing number of incidents of groups gathering in public spaces to socialise, including drinking alcohol.”

“That sort of behaviour puts people at risk and prevents others from feeling they can safely enjoy those outdoor spaces to take a walk.

He continued: “When it comes to the legislation, we will continue to take a common sense approach, applying discretion and judgement when engaging with the public.

“However, people gathering to socialise in groups outdoors are well aware what they are doing is wrong and have made an informed decision to do it anyway. In such circumstances we will not hesitate in taking appropriate and necessary enforcement action in order to protect the wider community.”

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed plans for the easing of lockdown restriction over the coming months. The four-step roadmap could see all social distancing measures lifted by June 21, but the PM has warned “nothing can be guaranteed”.

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