Covid-19 in Herts: Group leading the response to the disease asks 'Why are you out and about in lockdown 2.0?'
The body leading Hertfordshire’s response to the Covid-19 crisis is asking every resident of the county: "Why are you out and about in lockdown 2.0? Is it really essential?"
It comes as cases in Hertfordshire continue to rise, with East Herts heading for a level of 200 per 100,000 population – second only to Broxbourne.
With less than two weeks until the end of the current national lockdown, Hertfordshire’s Local Resilience Forum (LRF) is appealing to the community to cut out unnecessary outings and to stay at home as much as possible to slow the spread of coronavirus.
“Hertfordshire’s case numbers haven’t yet fallen as significantly as we need them to and I can’t help but think this is because more people have ignored the restrictions and carried on as normal rather than restricting themselves to essential outings, like they did in the first lockdown,” said Darryl Keen, who chairs the strategic co-ordination group of the LRF.
“Add to this the fact that many people who should be self-isolating have admitted that they are not, that they’re popping to the shops, for example, and it starts to make sense.
"I ask you, please, if you should be self-isolating, do it. Stop the spread. It’s down to us. Treat everyone you meet as if they have coronavirus. Get back to the basics: wash your hands regularly and for longer, stay two metres apart, wear a face covering. We all know how to play our part.”
The county council has warned that cases in parts of Broxbourne are "extremely high". It said that in six areas of the borough the rates were between 250 and 350 per 100,000 people. The overall rate in Broxbourne was 215.9 per 100,000 people in the week to Monday (Nov 16), but that was down from 225.1 the previous week.
East Herts – which includes Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth – now has the second highest rate of infection in the county, up to 193.7 per 100,000 in the week to November 16 from 146.9 the week before.
The case rates in the eight other Herts districts is: Three Rivers 177.9 per 100,000 (up from 165), Stevenage 177.6 (up from 127.5), Watford 169.8 (down from 183.3), Hertsmere 158.2 (up from 106.7), St Albans 146.8 (up from 130), North Herts 146.7 (up from 115.3), Welwyn Hatfield 138.2 (down from 171.5), Dacorum 125.4 (up from 123.4).
No district in Hertfordshire is above the England-wide average of 257.7.
Hertfordshire police Chief Superintendent Matt Nicholls added: “None of us knows yet what restrictions will be in place from Thursday 3 December, but we do know that by doing the right thing now we can all help to control the spread of the virus.
“I’ve got extra police officers out in communities working in partnership with local authorities, licensing authorities and businesses – engaging, explaining and encouraging people to act responsibly and follow the restrictions.
"Of course, they signed up to the police service to catch criminals, keep people safe and reduce crime, never expecting they would be told to challenge people to ensure they’re playing their part against a global pandemic.
“We have issued well over 500 formal warnings and a number of fixed penalty notices in recent weeks and we will continue to take enforcement action if people blatantly flout the lockdown.
"Operation Sunrise continues with additional resources deployed across the county, with patrols focused on high footfall areas like town centres, shopping areas and larger schools.”
If you are concerned that someone is breaking the law or you are experiencing anti-social behaviour, you can report this to police, who will consider the most appropriate response and target the most problematic behaviour. Reports should be made online at herts.police.uk/contact or via 101. In an emergency dial 999.
If you’re concerned that a business is breaching coronavirus rules, contact your local district or borough council in the first instance.
If you are feeling unwell, you should call 119 or book a test at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Hertfordshire’s LRF is a partnership of over 60 organisations including emergency services, local councils, health services and volunteers which plans, trains and responds to emergencies together.