Over the Easter bank holiday weekend, Thurrock Council's Environmental Enforcement officers – in partnership with Essex Police – spoke with over 1,500 people to remind them of the government's social distancing rules and the advice to stay at home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Over the course of the weekend, a team of 10 officers visited parks in the borough a total of 96 times and spoke with 1,572 individuals, including groups, to remind them about social distancing. They also put back tape and barriers at a number of play areas. These have been closed following government guidelines because it is not possible for residents, including families, to observe social distancing when using them.
Officers also issued 10 fixed penalty notices for anti-social behaviour including littering and spitting, and 2 people were fined for fly-tipping.
Nearly everyone the council and police teams spoke with about social distancing immediately complied with the advice given. The team received a warm and friendly response from the vast majority.
Leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill, said: "I would like to thank the vast majority of residents who followed the government advice and stayed home other than for essential journeys or daily exercise last weekend.
"It's a shame to see that national guidance still isn't getting through to some people with our officers and the police still having to speak with so many over the Easter weekend.
"Anyone who ignores the government's advice, young or old, is putting our most vulnerable residents' lives at risk, creating a situation in which the virus will continue to spread, possibly extending the amount of time all of us will have to spend observing these restrictions, and putting the NHS at risk.
"The police do have powers to enforce the government's social distancing advice when necessary and equally the council has the ability to close parks, something we have so far avoided in Thurrock.
"So I would again urge the minority of residents who are flouting government advice to stay at home with the exception of shopping for food, picking up medicine, for work where it can't be done from home and for exercise just once a day. This will help protect the NHS and save lives."