Police made 12 arrests at a gathering of up to 150 protesters in Wolverhampton city centre on Saturday (14 November, 2020) which contravened measures around meeting in public and social distancing put in place by the Government to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Police spoke to those in attendance and asked them to move on because they could not offer a reasonable excuse as to why they were in breach of the national lockdown restrictions. Despite this, many did not listen and therefore police had no option but to enforce the rules.
Meanwhile, police across the West Midlands have issued more than 150 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) in just a week to people who have flouted the Covid-19 regulations.
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Like them or not, the rules are there for a reason. Covid-19 hasn't gone away – in fact well over 800 people in Wolverhampton tested positive for this potentially deadly virus in the last week alone.
"We need to break the chain of transmission and that's why the Government has had to introduce restrictions which limit our contact with others and require us all to stay home as much as possible.
"The only way we are going to stop the virus is if we all stick to the rules - and remember, they are the law. The vast majority of Wulfrunians have worked incredibly hard over the last few months to comply with them, and I am sure they will be pleased to see that action is being taken against others who, through their thoughtlessness, are putting people’s lives at risk.”
Latest data shows there were 329.56 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the 7 days to 13 November. That means some 867 people in the city tested positive for the virus in the same period – though the true number of new cases will likely be considerably higher.
Superintendent Simon Inglis from Wolverhampton Police said: “We appreciate the considerable effort required by all in order to comply with these restrictions which none of us wanted or ever imagined. However, we have to take a hard look at the position we are in as a city and recognise that we will only beat this virus if we all work together and comply with the restrictions.
"I have dedicated a significant but proportionate number of officers to the task of ensuring compliance with the restrictions and I offer my sincere thanks to the vast majority of you that are. The restrictions are clear and need to be followed by us all if we are going to make a difference.
"We don’t set out to make arrests or issue fines, but in the interest of public safety we have been compelled to do so when faced with flagrant breaches of the rules."
The lockdown measures, which were introduced earlier this month and remain in place until 2 December, require people to:
- stay home as much as possible and only leave for a limited number of reasons such as education, exercise and recreation or to shop for essentials
- work from home if they can
- not mix with other people indoors or in private gardens, unless they are part of their household or care or support bubble
- continue to exercise or visit outdoor public places, but only with members of their own household or, if they are on their own, with one person from another household.
Full details of the national lockdown measures, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at COVID Alert
Symptoms of Covid-19 include a fever, a new, continuous cough and loss or change to a person’s sense of taste and smell. To book a test, visit GOV.UK or call 119. People can get tested within 8 days of developing symptoms.