Public urged to stay home over Easter and not 'give coronavirus a second chance to kill'

The Foreign Secretary has warned “we mustn’t give the coronavirus a second chance to kill more people” as the country heads into a sunny bank holiday weekend.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: Downing Street
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: Downing Street

Police chiefs have warned they will not hesitate to use new powers to keep people away from beauty spots and tourist destinations, as it is feared the hot weather will entice people out of their homes.

But Dominc Raab today said that “at just the moment we need to double down”, now was not the time to flout lockdown rules.

The Foreign Secretary admitted the measures the public were being asked to follow were “stringent”, he said: “I know these restrictions take their toll, day in day out, on people’s livelihoods, on people’s quality of life, on people’s mental health.

“And I appreciate that it’s often the little things that hurt the most.”

But he added: “The measures will have to stay in place until we’ve got the evidence that clearly shows we have moved beyond the peak.”

Mr Raab said: “After all the efforts everybody has made, after all the sacrifices so many people have made let’s not ruin it now.

“Let’s not undo the gains we’ve made, let’s not waste the sacrifices so many people have made.

“We mustn’t give the coronavirus a second chance to kill more people and to hurt our country.”

It comes as 881 further deaths from the virus in hospital were recorded, bringing the total across the country to 7,978.

At least 508 of these deaths were in Yorkshire.

And the Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared to spend a fourth night in intensive care - his fifth in hospital overall - with the virus.

Mr Raab said: “He’s still in intensive care but he continues to make positive steps forward and he’s in good spirits.”

The Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said it is important to continue with the measures in place.

He said: “The measures that everybody has taken, the difficult things that we’ve all had to do, are making a difference, they’re making a big difference.

“We know that the social distancing is working and we know that people are doing what they’re supposed to do and we need to keep doing that.

“And the reason we need to keep doing that is because it stops the transmission of the virus in the community and we know that that is already happening.”

He added: “The message is clear which is the social distancing we’re doing is breaking transmission, it’s stopping the hospital admissions, beginning to see that flattening off, still unbelievably busy but beginning to see that flatten off, it’s preventing more people going into intensive care and it will prevent deaths.”

Already police had been forced to turn tourists away from hotspots, including two men from Yorkshire with a canoe on the roof rack of their vehicle on their way to Lake Windermere, who were stopped and escorted back to the motorway.

And Downing Street said police will have the “full support” of Government in enforcing the coronavirus lockdown.

No 10 said it is at a “critical juncture” in the battle to curb the spread of the disease.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman made clear there can be no early lifting of the strict social distancing rules, urging the public to “stick with it”.

He said individual police forces will use their “discretion” as to how the measures are enforced.

He said: “We have given them a job to do. They will use their own discretion about how they best do that job.

“The powers which we have given the police are there to save lives. The police have our full backing and they have the public’s backing too.

“They have set out in advice to officers that they should engage, explain and finally enforce.”

However Councillor Liz Colling, from Scarborough Council, said she had received reports from local residents about people using holiday lets in the coastal resort during the lockdown.

“People are worried because we’ve got a beautiful, well-resourced hospital but it’s for us, for our population,” she said.

“It’s just flagrant disregard for the rules. We’re all missing families and friends, especially over the Easter weekend, and to see somebody travel from away to come to one of our beautiful hotspots just makes people angry.”

The cabinet member for economy, communities and commercial warned that police across North Yorkshire would be stopping apparent tourists over the Easter weekend.

She added: “It’s wherever there’s a traditional holiday spot or a beauty spot that people might want to come to.

“Even if they think they can just come for the day and have a long walk – no.”