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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

‘We don’t want anyone to begin 2021 with a fine’ – public urged to follow COVID-19 rules ahead of New Year’s Eve

Officers will be on patrol tonight for New Year’s Eve and we’re urging people to take responsibility for their actions and do what they can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Our officers and call-handlers will again be working around the clock to help keep the public safe.

Pubs and bars cannot open in tier 3 and 4 areas, which means it will be a different New Year’s Eve to many years with people needing to stay at home.

People are being urged not to break the rules, mix indoors, organise parties or take part in large gatherings with people outside of your household.

Chief Supt Claire Armes said: “This year is one that has seen people make huge personal sacrifices, key workers have put in incredible shifts and families have lost loved ones. We’re thankful to the overwhelming majority of people who have complied with the rules and public health advice this year.

“We fully understand that people want to celebrate the start of 2021, but we’re urging everyone to remember the COVID-19 restrictions when they do so. Come New Year’s Day, the pandemic will not be over; it’s vital everyone does what they can to prevent the virus spreading, to protect the NHS and ultimately save lives.”

COVID-19 restrictions mean licensed premises across Avon and Somerset cannot open this New Year’s Eve and we are reminding people not to break the law by hosting parties or mixing with other households in breach of the rules.

We’re also asking people to be vigilant and call 101 if they see any signs of unlicensed music events taking place within their communities. Early intervention is key to stopping such events taking place; there have been a number of instances this year where calls from the public have enabled officers to attend and stop events from getting underway.

The key signs are:

  • Promotion on social media
  • Sound equipment being unloaded from vans
  • Large number of people congregating in an unexpected location – e.g. a rural setting or industrial site

Organisers of such events can be fined up to £10,000 under COVID-19 legislation.

Chief Supt Armes added: “We’ve consistently said we cannot police our way out of this pandemic. We continue to engage with the public, explain the rules and encourage them to comply. Enforcement remains an option for those who blatantly breach the legislation.

“Ultimately though people need to take responsibility for their own actions. We’d ask anyone thinking of attending or organising a gathering or party not to do so.

“Somerset’s move to tier 4 status means it is vitally important people stay at home tonight and those areas in tier 3 should not see households mixing either.

“Ignorance is not an excuse nine months into a pandemic in which tens of thousands of people have died and case numbers are rising. Don’t be selfish and put your own desire to have a good time over the health of others, including your loved ones.

“Our officers will again be out and about tonight but we’d please urge people to be sensible and don’t breach the rules – we don’t want anyone to begin 2021 with a fine.”

More information on what the tier restrictions mean for your area is available on the Government’s website.