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Police step up warnings to public over social distancing

Police forces across the country have called on the public to stay at home. The COVID-19 outbreak is a "national emergency, not a national holiday", one PCC said.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council urged the public to take social isolation seriously after the weekend saw thousands of people congregating in public places.

NPCC Chairman Martin Hewitt went on national TV to update on police work to combat the emergency and urge the public to stay at home.

He said: “We are in this together and we must follow the government advice.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed Powys criticised wealthy families that had decided to escape to the countryside – and potentially carry the virus to rural areas.

Dafydd Llewelyn called for a total lock down: "The guidance is clear - no one should be undertaking non-essential travel. That includes taking a trip to rural Wales.

"We must now introduce a series of 'lockdowns' to ensure people travelling to a non-primary residence should be stopped and those currently in non-primary residences should return home. No community is going to be immune from this pandemic. People cannot out-run it and people certainly can't hide from it in holiday spots.”

He added: “This isn't a national holiday, it is a national emergency. If people don't start acting responsibly hundreds, possibly thousands, of people will die unnecessarily."

Police Scotland condemned a small number of pubs and bars that had claimed they would defy the government and stay open. The venues were warned their licences would be reviewed as part of enforcement work.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: "This is absolutely reckless and endangers not only the lives of customers, but wider communities, in an extremely fast moving and unprecedented situation where both the health and safety of the nation is at stake.

"Therefore, I have obtained further legal advice today and Police Scotland will now instruct officers to serve emergency closure orders on any licensed premises which refuses to comply on the grounds of the threat posed to public safety. Officers are now visiting these premises today to have them closed.”

The force also joined the NPCC by calling on employers to free up Special Constables to strengthen numbers.

DCC Graham has called on special constables to increase the number of hours they volunteer for if they can.

DCC Graham said: "This is an extraordinary moment and one that requires a collective response. The coronavirus pandemic is presenting an unprecedented and dynamic set of challenges and to support health professionals and maximise public safety, the policing response is crucial.”

He added: "The coming weeks and months will be demanding and there will be significant additional duties that we are required to discharge during this critical period.”

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