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Staffordshire’s police chief has warned people in Lichfield and Burntwood not to make trips to beauty spots for exercise during the coronavirus lockdown.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council had issued guidance suggesting people could travel as long as the exercise period was longer than the drive.
But Staffordshire Police’s chief constable Gareth Morgan said the guidance would not change the way the issue was dealt with across the county.
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“Now is not the time for people to be travelling to exercise in our rural communities or visit local beauty spots and parks and I am pleased that most people understand and support this.
“There has been some recent coverage in the media of additional guidance about what may constitute ‘reasonable’ in terms of the new legislation but I am clear this does not change our policing approach in Staffordshire and we will continue to use discretion and good judgement in deciding what is and what isn’t ‘reasonable’ in the circumstances.
“The guidance from the government remains that exercise should be done locally, using open spaces near to your home where possible, and people should travel only when necessary and for a short distance
“Travelling from other areas, like we have seen some examples of recently, to enjoy the county’s rural areas is not necessary or reasonable.
“The parks, forests and beauty spots in Staffordshire will still be here when this is over and people will be welcome back when it’s safe to do so.”Chief Constable Gareth Morgan, Staffordshire Police
Staffordshire has seen one of the lowest number of fines issued for people breaching coronavirus measures.
But Ch Cons Morgan said officers would use the full force of powers available to them if necessary.
“My colleagues will continue to patrol all areas across the county this weekend and where they come across people travelling unreasonably or people failing to adhere to the social distancing guidelines, they will engage with them, explain the guidance and encourage people to go home.
“Only as a last resort where reason fails, enforcement action will be taken.
“First and foremost these powers are about keeping people safe and local communities want and expect us to do that, so the most important thing we can all do is continue to stay at home, stay safe and protect the NHS.”Chief Constable Gareth Morgan, Staffordshire Police