This is North Yorkshire Police's message to visitors coming from Covid hotspots

A senior officer has said North Yorkshire is well prepared to police those coming into the county to take advantage of its looser lockdown restrictions.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 10:52 am
Updated Thursday, 15th October 2020, 10:56 am

"There is an awful lot of planning ongoing to ensure we are ready to react," said North Yorkshire Police superintendent Mike Walker.

There are currently no travel bans in place across England.

However, people living in Tier 2 and 3 lockdown areas - such as Leeds and Liverpool - are being advised to avoid travel unless it is essential.

Superintendent Mike Walker: "We want the public who do travel into North Yorkshire and the City of York to fully understand their personal responsibilities."

Superintendent Walker told a briefing that officers had reported incidents of people from these higher risk areas travelling into Tier 1 North Yorkshire - and that it was likely to continue.

He did - however - add this was only a minority and that most people were following the government advice.

Superintendent Walker said: "I appreciate - especially with the tier system coming in - that it takes a little bit of time to understand the restrictions but we will enforce them if we have to.

"These restrictions have been put in place for a good reason - to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.

"The vast majority of people in those areas understand the restrictions. It's only the minority who decide to throw caution to the wind.

"We want the public who do travel into North Yorkshire and the City of York to fully understand their personal responsibilities."

It comes as police in North Yorkshire have not yet fined anyone over breaches of the 'rule of six' coronavirus restriction or wearing of face masks.

This is despite the police force holding the record for handing out the most lockdown fines in the country. Officers previously said this corresponded with people travelling to the county's beauty spots during lockdown.

The 'rule of six' came into force in September and made social gatherings of more than six people - anywhere indoors or outdoors - illegal. It's being enforced through fines recently doubled to £200.

Superintendent Walker said he was pleased that most people are following the rules, but warned officers will take action against those who do not.

"Officers will be patrolling, we will be visible and we will be enforcing areas such as face coverings and the rule of six as we have been doing throughout the pandemic," he said.

"We are prepared for any influx of people into the night-time and day-time economy of North Yorkshire and the City of York. We have been policing this proportionately and will continue to do that."

North Yorkshire has so far avoided tighter restrictions on socialising that have affected many northern towns and cities.

The county has been placed under Tier 1 which means the ‘rule of six’ and 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants continues to apply.

Superintendent Walker said demand on police services has now returned to pre-lockdown levels, making it harder for officers to respond to every call.

"Previously when we were in a full lockdown, we had much more resources to be out in the public, reassuring the public and enforcing the health protection regulations," he said.

"With demand going back to what it is now, clearly we have to risk assess every report that comes in.

"But we will do our very best to ensure that we police the health protection regulations."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter