'Explore from Your Door' plea as warmer weather and falling cases raise coronavirus complacency fears
People in West Norfolk - and beyond - are being urged to “Explore from Your Door” as an anticipated early taste of spring puts more pressure on coronavirus lockdown measures.
Police and community leaders have made the plea after 10 people were fined in West Norfolk over the past two weekends for breaching the rules.
And, with temperatures expected to climb in the next few days, there are fears that more people will be tempted to do the same.
Three of the latest fines issued were for visiting coastal areas such as Hunstanton and Heacham from other parts of the country.
The “Explore from Your Door” slogan has been launched by Hunstanton Town Council whose clerk, Jan Roomes, said residents had been reporting incidents of people travelling long distances to the resort to her this week.
The town’s Mayor, Tony Bishopp, has also warned people not to become complacent even though infection rates are falling.
Latest data suggests infection rates in West Norfolk have fallen to their lowest level since mid-December, although some parts of Lynn are still among the highest in Norfolk.
Figures for the seven days up to last Friday, February 12, showed there were 231 coronavirus cases in West Norfolk, down by 165, or 41.7 per cent, on the previous week.
The borough’s seven-day rolling infection rate stood at 152.6 cases per 100,000 people, the lowest it has been since the second week of December.
But the rate in some areas of Lynn remains much higher, with levels of more than 350 cases per 100,000 people recorded in parts of Gaywood over the same period.
Mr Bishopp said: “We know how hard this lockdown is and the devastating impact the absence of visitors are having on local businesses with the forced closure of hotels, B & B’s, holiday parks, pubs, restaurants and leisure destinations.
“But the light really is at the end of the tunnel as vaccines are rolled out every day to our most vulnerable people and frontline workers.
“We all want to avoid any further lockdowns so we have to follow the rules for now.”
Although conditions remain changeable, forecasters generally expect the weather in West Norfolk to become milder and drier through the weekend and into next week.
It’s a stark contrast to the snow and freezing temperatures which brought disruption to large parts of the borough last week.
In total, Norfolk Police has issued more than 140 fines for breaches of the lockdown rules across the county over the past two weeks.
Temporary Superintendant Nathan Clark said yesterday: “After the recent spell of snow and freezing temperatures, we understand that people will want go outside to enjoy the milder weather.
“However, it is important people remember that lockdown rules remain in place and journeys should only be made for essential purposes.
“Travelling to beauty spots or coastal areas for a walk, when you’re not local to the area, is not regarded as essential.
“We know people are making real sacrifices to adhere to these restrictions and we must continue to work together so we don’t undermine these efforts.”
Meanwhile, rapid lateral flow Covid tests are still being offered at the Oasis leisure centre in Hunstanton, as well as the Fairstead Community Centre and St James Pool in Lynn.
Stuart Dark, West Norfolk Council cabinet member for environmental services and public protection, said yesterday: “Numbers of cases in our area continue to decrease, but we must not be complacent.
“I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to have a test, if they live or work in one of the above areas, and to have the test repeated at least once a week.Anyone of us could have the virus and could be spreading it unknowingly because we do not have any symptoms.
“It is important that we all do our bit to help protect ourselves, protect others and protect West Norfolk.”
Tests can be booked at www.norfolk.gov.uk/rapidtesting.