Health, council and police bosses have joined forces in the fight against coronavirus – and issued a joint plea today urging borough residents to stay at home and save lives.
It comes after government announced earlier this week that people have to stay at home except for very limited purposes, while non-essential shops have been ordered to close. Community spaces are being shut and no more than two people should gather in public, unless they are members of the same household.
Police have been given extra powers to enforce the new measures. Officers are adopting an approach based on educating, explaining and encouraging people to comply with the restrictions, using enforcement powers as a last resort. The measures will be reviewed in three weeks' time.
Diane Wake, chief executive of the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, said:
"Social distancing is a tried and tested method of protecting people.
"Slowing the spread of COVID-19 will also mean that we in the NHS are much more able to cope with the number of people who will inevitably require hospital treatment.
"We really need the public to listen to the messages and only leave their homes when absolutely essential. When you do go out, please keep a safe two metre distance between you and anyone who doesn’t live in your house with you.
"Our nurses and doctors don’t have that option and are continuing to put their patients first, and we call on everyone to support them by taking this seriously and helping us save lives."
Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said:
"Reducing day-to-day contact with other people is the most important thing we can all do to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
"That is why the Government has introduced these new social distancing measures, and they should be followed by everyone.
"The advice is strong and clear - reduce your day to day contact with other people. We are working hard to keep services running for you but we will have no option but to close parks and other open spaces if it is clear that there are people not adhering to the rules.
"If we all work together, it will play a vital part in our combined efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus, and ultimately help save lives.
Chief Superintendent Sally Bourner, Neighbourhood Policing Unit Commander for Dudley police, said:
"I would like to thank the vast majority of people across our borough who are doing the right thing as responsible citizens and complying with the restrictions announced by government this week.
"Our message is clear – stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS.
"We have already received several calls about potential breaches of the restrictions. If you have concerns, please let us know via webchat which you can find on www.west-midlands.police.uk as this will help inform our patrol plans.
"Our officers and PCSOs are out and about patrolling our communities, engaging with people to explain and educate them about their responsibilities, encouraging them to comply during this challenging times. As a last resort, we will enforce these restrictions.
People should only leave the house:
When leaving the house, you should ensure you are two metres apart from anyone, other than members of your own household. If you are a 'critical worker', or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you can continue to take your children to school.
The Government has also ordered non-essential shops and public spaces to be closed.
Last week, the Government ordered certain businesses - including pubs, cinemas and theatres - to close. It has now extended this requirement to cover all non-essential retail stores (include clothing and electronics stores and hair, beauty and nail salons), markets (excluding food markets), libraries, community centres and youth centres, indoor and outdoor leisure facilities (such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities), communal places within parks (such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms), places of worship, hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites and caravan parks.
To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the Government is also stopping all public gatherings of more than two people. The only exceptions to this are where the gathering is of a group of people from the same household, or where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.
In addition, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. Funerals can continue, but can only be attended by immediate family members.
The updated guidance is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from coronavirus at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus. For further information and guidance, please also visit the council’s own coronavirus pages at www.dudley.gov.uk/coronavirus