Bosses at Police Scotland, Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders have joined forces to urge people to continue to stay at home as much as possible and remind them of the possible consequences if they don’t.
Not only do they risk unwittingly helping to hasten the spread of coronavirus trough the region and potentially adding to the workload of staff at the Borders General Hospital at Melrose already treating 67 patients either confirmed or suspected to have the disease, but they could also face on-the-spot fines of £60.
That warning comes as dry, warm and often-sunny weather is being forecast for the Easter weekend.
Temperatures in the region are expected to hit 17C today, April 10; 16C tomorrow; 11C on Easter Sunday; and 12C on Monday.
Chief inspector Stuart Reid, Police Scotland’s local area commander for the Borders, said: “People recognise that it is their duty to adhere to these guidelines to protect their fellow citizens, ease the strain on the health service and collectively save lives.
“Our chief constable, Iain Livingstone, has already said that everyone must contribute to the national effort to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, and we are grateful to the vast majority who have made significant changes to their daily habits and routines.
“Police Scotland will continue to play its part, engaging with people, establishing their individual circumstances and explaining the risks to public health of failing to comply with guidance.
“Officers and the public must take a common-sense approach to this unique emergency.
“We will always encourage compliance but, as a last resort, we will use the enforcement powers which are in place.
“Policing in Scotland gains its legitimacy and authority from the consent and support of the public.
“Everything we do will be done in a fair, reasonable, and proportionate manner.”
Council chief executive Tracey Logan said: “I believe the majority of Borderers are staying at home, and I thank everyone for complying with the national guidance.
“However, there are still some people who choose to go to public places when there is absolutely no need.
“Let’s be clear – if you don’t abide by this guidance, you aren’t only putting your own life at risk, you’re endangering the lives of other people.
“If you are going out to exercise, only go once a day and either go alone or with members of your household.
“Please don’t drive to local beauty spots to exercise. Go somewhere you can walk to.
“You can walk or jog in our parks, but please remember our playparks and other facilities such as public toilets are closed.
“If you are over 70 or have a serious underlying health condition, you need to be particularly stringent in following the social distancing measures.
“Anyone who needs any help or support such as access to food, shopping and collection of prescriptions, can call 0300 100 1800. We have multi-agency teams, working with local resilience groups through our community assistance hubs, who can provide this essential support.
“Please play your part and stay at home to protect yourself, protect others, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Nicky Berry, director of nursing, midwifery and acute services for NHS Borders, added: “We are at a critical stage in the fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“Now, more so than ever, we need you to stay at home.
“Our dedicated staff continue to do an amazing job, but we need the Borders public’s help to ensure we keep the number of people needing care in our hospitals to a minimum.
“That can be achieved by staying at home, only going outside for essential food, health and work reasons, staying 6ft away from other people and washing your hands regularly.”
That joint appeal for continued compliance with a lockdown likely to last weeks yet follows a similar plea made by Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon at her weekly Holyrood question session, conducted remotely for the first time, yesterday.
She told fellow MSPs: “It is now exactly 100 days since the first cases of coronavirus were reported in Wuhan and, in that time, our lives have been transformed in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few weeks ago.
“Since we are about to enter the Easter weekend, I want to strongly re-emphasise the vital importance of everyone following the public health restrictions that are in place and staying at home except for permitted essential purposes.
“I know how hard it is for people to do that. It will seem even harder over the Easter holiday weekend, especially for families with children, for the children themselves and for older people who would normally be spending time with their grandchildren.
“I ask people to please stay in touch with family, friends and loved ones in whatever alternative way works best for them, to reach out to and look out for other people while staying physically apart from them and to follow the rules
and stay at home over Easter.
“By doing that, we can all help to slow down the spread of the virus, we can help to protect our National Health Service and we can help to save lives.
“I thank everybody in advance for doing the right thing this weekend.
“There is no likelihood or prospect of the measures being lifted after the Easter weekend.
“It is likely that restrictions and measures will be in place for some weeks to come yet.
“Again, I appeal to people to stick with this.
“We are not asking people to change their lives in such a fundamental way for no reason. I do not want to do it, but it is vital, for health reasons, that we all understand.”
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