Only a year ago the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions on our lives would have been unthinkable, yet as we settle in to the third national lockdown the need for us all to stay at home and limit unnecessary social contact is clear. As death from COVID-19 reach another tragic high we all have a role to plan in limiting the spread of the virus.
None of us welcome the restrictions on our daily lives, and there is understandable frustration from many as our normal way of life is curtailed. However we must hope that with the vaccine rolling out at a growing rate, this is the last time we will need to endure such national restrictions.
Throughout the pandemic Thames Valley Police have been at the forefront of supporting the NHS in their efforts to protect us all. Enforcement of the rules has been key, and although the Force will continue with the four stage approach - to Engage, Educate, Encourage and only then to Enforce - in cases where people are deliberately flouting the rules the move to enforcement will be much quicker.
The vast majority of people are sticking to the guidance, managing to limit their contacts and when they must leave their homes, doing so within the law. Police officers across Thames Valley continue to deal with the normal daily issues of crime and public protection alongside the role of enforcing the coronavirus regulations. The virus is another threat to officers who often have to be in close contact with people in an already dangerous job.
The approach from Thames Valley will continue to be proportionate and appropriate, focussing on those cases where people's reckless behaviour may cause a danger to public health. It is vitally important the confidence in policing is maintained throughout the pandemic and so the Force will continue to enforce the rules with common sense in order to maintain public trust whilst also protecting us all from those who insist on recklessly breaking the rules.
In instances were there are egregious breach of the rules the public would expect the police to deal with them swiftly as with any instance were someone is endangering the lives of others.
As well as the wearing of face coverings which is mandatory in public indoor spaces we should remember that hand washing remains key to preventing the transmission of the virus, especially if people are out of their homes for work, essential shopping or exercise. Evidence is still unclear on how the new variant is spreading more quickly, but surface contact remains a significant risk of transmission and hand washing can be all too easily overlooked.
If anyone has concerns about breaches of coronavirus regulations these can be reported to Thames Valley Police online or by calling 101.
Most of us are complying with the guidelines and we all have a duty to continue to hold the line in order to turn the tide on the virus. Although we have some of the toughest weeks still ahead of us, as the vaccine coverage spreads we can look forward a brighter future in the months to come.