People urged to stay safe and follow the rules over Easter

People urged to stay safe and follow the rules over Easter

People in Sandwell are urged to take extra care over the Easter weekend and keep following the latest Government rules to help avoid a big spike in Covid-19 infections.

Public health chiefs are warning that the inevitable increase in meet-ups following the relaxation of rules on Monday (29 March) could risk people spreading the virus if they don’t stick to the rules.

The message is to take care wherever you are – whether it’s a meet-up in a private garden or a public park.

During the pandemic, parks and green spaces have been increasingly popular destinations for people to visit.

Please do not meet in large groups at Sandwell Valley Country Park, other parks, and open spaces across the borough’s six towns. Visitors to Sandwell’s parks and open spaces are also urged to observe social distancing guidelines to protect themselves and others and help save lives.

The current Government’s rules (which came into effect on Monday 29 March) are:

– you are able to meet outdoors either in a group of six (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to two households (each household can include existing support bubbles, if eligible)

– you are able to take part informally organized outdoor sports with any number of people (outdoor sports venues and facilities will be able to reopen)

– childcare and supervised activities are allowed outdoors for all children

– formally organized parent and child groups are able to take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees. Children aged under five will be not counted in this number

Sandwell Council is working alongside West Midlands Police to carry out patrols at Sandwell Valley and other parks and green spaces over the Easter break.

People who aren’t following the Government rules face being fined by the police. People can be given a fixed penalty notice of £200 for the first offense, doubling for further offenses up to a maximum of £6,400.

People are also reminded that they face £100 fines from the council if they are caught littering or not picking up after their dogs.

If you are planning on visiting Sandwell’s parks over the Easter period (or any time), make sure you use a bin for your litter. If the bin you see is already full, please take your litter home. If you brought it with you, you can take it home again, too, and you may able to recycle some items in your blue-lid recycling bin.

Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell’s director of public health, said: “We know people will want to meet up and enjoy some fresh air and exercise. However, this killer virus has not gone away. We are already seeing surges in infection rates in some areas and the more everyone relaxes, the more likely it is that the virus will spread. Please avoid large gatherings, even outside, and let’s keep everyone safe. Even if you have received the vaccine, this doesn’t mean you can’t catch and pass on Covid-19. Please keep following the rules and staying safe.”

Superintendent Phil Asquith, from Sandwell Police, said: “We understand the desire for people to visit outdoor areas especially when the weather is nice. The Covid legislation however is very clear and I appeal to people to limit their gatherings to the prescribed number and where areas are crowded avoid them.

“Where groups gather in higher numbers than permitted, officers will actively engage with them and where appropriate will take enforcement action.”