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Coronavirus: UK police forces to set up random checkpoints to limit drivers’ movements

‘The message is clear and the warning stark. Stay at home, save lives,’ officer says

Samuel Osborne
Thursday 26 March 2020 17:34 GMT
Prof Neil Ferguson of Imperial College predicts peak coronavirus in 2-3 weeks' time

Police forces across the UK have set up checkpoints to stop vehicles and ask drivers if their journey is essential during the coronavirus lockdown.

On Monday, Boris Johnson, the prime minister, imposed a nationwide three-week lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19, telling Britons to stay at home and giving police powers to enforce the instructions with fines.

Officers have been asking motorists where they are going and why they are going there.

They have also been reminding them of the government’s message to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Roadblocks have been set up in North Yorkshire, Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “The new and significant restrictions announced by the prime minister on Monday evening spell out very clearly what each and every one of us must do to save lives.

“The message is clear and the warning stark. Stay at home, save lives.

“These are the lives of the people we know and love. Our partners, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, grandparents.

“You may never be in such a position again where your simple actions will lead directly to saving lives.”

Plymouth D Section Response tweeted a picture of their road-block, adding: ”We are continuing our work again this morning with road calming measures and enquiries ref essential travel, consider this now the norm.

“Officers have also deployed to various supermarkets to assist with queueing flows and social distancing.”

Officers in Cornwall had checked over 150 vehicles in Penzance, Hayle and St Ives, they said on Thursday.

They wrote on the Penzance Police Facebook page: “Essential journey? Driving to exercise at another location is NOT an essential journey!

“Yesterday we stopped and checked over 150 vehicles in the Penzance, Hayle and St Ives area.

“Drivers were asked if their journey was essential. We will continue to carry out these checks because, like you, we want to keep Cornwall safe.

“Please share and let’s keep travel to an absolute minimum.”

Derbyshire Police said people continue to drive to the Peak District for walks despite the force’s warnings to stay at home.

In a series of tweets, which included drone footage of people enjoying walks, the force said: “Despite posts yesterday highlighting issues of people still visiting the #PeakDistrict despite government guidance, the message is still not getting through.

“Cars were parked in both the car park and on the hill up to it. A bag of stones that was at the entrance as a roadblock had been pulled to the side to allow cars to enter. Plenty of people were walking, many of which had parked up in cars before heading out for their walk.

“Some number plates were coming back to keepers in #Sheffield, so we know that people are travelling to visit these areas. Daily exercise should be taken locally to your home. Under government guidance, all travel is limited to essential travel only.”

The Metropolitan Police and West Yorkshire Police said they had no checkpoints in place.

It comes as police in England were given the power to arrest or fine people up to £960 for breaking the lockdown rules.

The government said the unprecedented measures were necessary to “reduce the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives”.

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