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Do your bit to stop the spread this February half-term

Families are being urged to stick to the current lockdown guidelines during the half-term break as police and council leaders continue their efforts to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in Staffordshire. 

Staffordshire Police is continuing to respond to breaches in the county including household gatherings and residents not isolating when instructed to do so. 

Officers issued a total of 138 fixed penalty notices across Staffordshire in the first week of February for a range of breaches as the force continues to receive a number of reports from members of the public. The most common breaches dealt with by officers included house parties and people taking unnecessary journeys.  

As half-term approaches, the force has joined up with local authorities to remind residents of their responsibility to adhere to the current rules and help reduce the number of Covid-19 cases in the county. 

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is promoting virtual things for families to enjoy over the break while Staffordshire County Council’s libraries have a whole host of online activities for families. 

Staffordshire County Council Leader Alan White said: “Parents across the county have been doing a fantastic job in supporting education at home, and the coming half-term will provide some respite. We have plenty of online activities taking place to keep families entertained over the break.

“With people tired and Covid-19 rates falling, it would be easy to let our guard down over the school holidays. Staffordshire residents have done a fantastic job in reducing the number of cases and we all want this to continue, but Covid-19 thrives on complacency, so we must keep following the rules if we are to stop this virus spreading. This means not mixing with other households, only making essential journeys, and remembering hands, face, space at all times. There will be time to meet up with friends again in the future, but for now we need to carry on sticking to the rules and if you have essential reasons for being out and about, please get tested.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s museums, libraries and other indoor attractions remain closed throughout the national lockdown, but the venues are continuing to provide alternative entertainment on their websites and social media channels.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “February half-term next week will provide a welcome break for many families who have been home-schooling since the start of lockdown. Although I encourage all to take advantage of the break, please remember lockdown restrictions still apply. 

“People should not be mixing with others outside their household or support bubble and should not be making non-essential journeys. Let’s not undo all our hard work over the past few months by breaking the rules and potentially causing further spread of the virus. Our coronavirus rate and positivity rate are slowly going down, but the virus is still out there.

“Our covid stewards will be doing extra patrols across Stoke-on-Trent parks all week to provide advice and check on compliance. It’s difficult especially for children who haven’t seen their friends since before Christmas, but please do not use being outside as an excuse to meet groups of people outside of your household.”

Meanwhile the force will monitor hot-spot areas to ensure people are complying with the rules, taking enforcement where necessary.

Superintendent Thomas Chisholm, head of neighbourhood policing at Staffordshire Police, says he is pleased to see the majority of residents in the county sticking to the rules. He said: “These are undoubtedly very challenging times for everyone but it has been heartening to see the efforts by so many in the county to adhere to the rules and ultimately play their part in trying to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases.

“We can appreciate how desperate residents are for normality to return – we all feel the same. But it is vital we continue to follow the national restrictions and not put the health and lives of people at risk. 

“This half-term, like recent school holidays, will of course be very different to what children and families are used to. And while it represents a much-needed break, it isn’t a time to gather together and take unnecessary journeys. We would also ask parents to always know where their children are and make sure they are not breaching the restrictions.”

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