Here's what 'stay local' means for those thinking of hitting road into or out of Northamptonshire

'After 11 months, people should understand what they can and can't do' warn police

Friday, 5th March 2021, 4:08 pm
Updated Friday, 5th March 2021, 4:10 pm

Police say they will carry on fining anyone flouting lockdown laws by travelling long distances into and out of Northamptonshire.

The main 'Stay At Home' orders are likely to remain in force until at least mid-April.

Yet people from Northamptonshire turned up in Norfolk while visitors from Hertfordshire, Bradford, Leicestershire, London, Redditch, Wolverhampton and Coventry have all been hit with fines here.

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Police revealed people are travelling into and out of Northamptonshire despite Stay at Home rules remaining in place until mid-April at least. Photo: Getty Images

Boris Johnson setting target dates for lifting the lockdown, falling case rates and a successful vaccine roll-out and decent weather last weekend all combined to tempt people outside.

And while many settled for a local park, many have gone further during lockdown. Up to 100 miles further.

■ A family headed from Hertfordshire to East Carlton Country Park near Corby to share a Sunday afternoon picnic with relatives.

■ Norfolk Police reported a man from Northamptonshire drove all the way to Hunstanton beach to walk his dogs.

■ Another admitted he had come from Northamptonshire to visit family in Norwich before going to see more relatives in Great Yarmouth.

■ Bikers from Leicester and Wolverhampton were ticketed after travelling to an off-road meet on land near Northampton in January.

■ A couple took a 200-mile round trip to go seal-watching on the north Norfolk coast.

But the message from officers issuing £200 fines to those not sticking to the rules is clear.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Blatchly said: “It has been 11 months since we first went into lockdown and people know by now what they should and shouldn’t be doing.

"One of the difficulties is that Isn't clearly defined in the government guidelines, so much is down to individual forces and individual officers.

"We've taken common-sense approach in Northamptonshire as to what local means.

"We're still asking people to exercise locally and try to stay local when you go out — don't pass two other country parks to get to your favourite one, for example.

"Last weekend we had people from Bradford and Redditch travelling into Northamptonshire and some from London travelling up to a friend's birthday party at a house here.

"These are extreme examples where is no excuse for that sort of behaviour. We trry to engage and explain but people should by now be able to understand the rules."

Government guidence says people can go out for good reasons including shopping essentials, medical reasons, to go to school or work, or exercise once a day.

From Monday the restrictions on exercising will be eased, allow two people to exercise together.

But if you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay in your local area — unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work.

The advice adds: "Even if you travel on your own, stay out in the open, wear a mask and maintain social distancing staying in your local area means in the village, town, or part of the city where you live."