With the majority of pupils having home schooling, the February half term may seem a little strange for parents, carers and pupils this year.
However, BCP Council has joined forces with Dorset Police and other partner agencies in the county to ask the public to stay local and explore from their door next week.
Chief Constable James Vaughan said, “While the number of daily cases continues to fall, over 100,000 people have tragically lost their lives from COVID-19. We must stick with the rules and not become complacent or lose sight of why these restrictions are in place – to reduce the spread of the disease, protect the NHS and save lives.
“While the legislation allows people to travel locally to carry out their daily exercise with members of their household or one other person, there has been much discussion about what ‘local’ means. The Government states that local means staying within your village, town or city. It does not mean travelling for over 100 miles from out of the county to visit Dorset’s beaches, countryside or beauty spots. This is not within the spirit of the legislation. Disappointingly we have still seen people travelling for over 100 miles to visit our beauty spots. Travelling to stay in second homes or other rentals is also not allowed at this time.
“Our officers will be continuing their daily patrols on the main arterial routes in and through Dorset, as well as at popular beauty spots, and will be speaking to motorists about their journeys. If people are found to have travelled unnecessarily and in blatant breach of the rules, they could be handed a £200 fine and turned around.”
Between 27 March 2020 and 17 January 2021, Dorset Police issued a total of 1,083 fixed penalty notices (FPNs). Since 6 January 2021 and the start of the latest National Lockdown restrictions, almost 200 FPNs have been issued in the county. Between 6 January 2021 and 17 January 2021, 40 per cent of the FPNs were handed to people who live outside Dorset. During all three national lockdowns – 23 March 2020 and 17 January 2021 – 76.3 per cent of the total FPNs issued were handed to those living out of the county.
Last week the Force received 376 COVID-19-related reports. Examples of recent breaches include people travelling from as far away as London to surf off the Dorset coast and five people were fined after driving from Leicester to Lulworth to look at the coastline.
The number of people currently travelling on the county’s roads is far higher than that experienced in the first lockdown. On 1 February 2021, traffic flow in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area was 35 per cent lower than the same time the previous year and 72 per cent higher than the first lockdown. In the Dorset area it was around 39 per cent lower than the same time last year, but 94 per cent higher than the first lockdown.
Cllr Nicola Greene, portfolio holder for COVID-19 Resilience and Public Health at BCP Council, said, “We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole when it’s safe to do so but for now, please play your part in helping to stop the spread of this deadly virus and if you do head out for exercise, stay local.”
Cllr Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset Council said, “It is more important than ever that we all carry on acting responsibly, as the large majority of residents are doing in Dorset. We know how hard this lockdown is, with us all being affected by the restrictions in some way, but the light really is at the end of the tunnel as vaccines are rolled out every day to our most vulnerable people and front line workers. Please, continue to stay home and stay local this half term.”
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