Ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend, residents across Kent and Medway are being reminded to avoid unnecessary travel to coastal areas, parks and other popular open spaces as part of potentially life-saving measures against the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).
Members of the Kent Resilience Forum including district councils, Kent County Council, Medway Council, emergency services and train operator Southeastern are reminding everyone to follow the Government’s advice by staying safe at home.
A spokesman for the district councils said: “We were pleased to see that last weekend, many residents used common sense and did heed national advice to stay close to home, avoiding crowded areas. Unfortunately, we need to ask them to do so again this long weekend so please don’t travel to the coast or country parks to do your exercise and certainly don’t go to public places for picnics or social gatherings.
“Stay close to home, only go out with members of your own household once a day for exercise and please avoid creating a crowd. And if you’re looking to have a barbecue or bonfire while you’re at home, we urge you to follow safety advice there. It’s vital that we’re all #kenttogether.”
Government advice warns against getting too close to other people who do not live with you, otherwise known as social distancing. KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark added: “Exercise is an important way to help your physical and mental health. If you can’t keep fit and healthy at home then the Government advice currently is for one trip out of your house each day for a walk or run. You should stay close to your home and you should not drive unnecessarily or take public transport unless it is absolutely essential.
“Remember when out to stay two metres (six feet) away from other people – that’s either two very big steps or hold your arm out and then double that distance. It’s vital that we all continue with a sensible approach to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and avoid the strain on the NHS.”
Aaron Willcox, Margate station manager said: “Southeastern’s reduced timetable is designed for vital key workers and those making essential journeys, with only half the usual number of trains. We know a trip to the beach might seem tempting as the weather gets warmer, but please follow the government advice and only travel if your journey is absolutely essential.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service is also advising residents to stay safe at home, particularly around the use of bonfires. KFRS Assistant Director for Resilience, Lee Rose, said: “We are monitoring what impact the current Covid-19 isolation situation is having on the type of incidents we are attending, and it’s clear there has been more bonfires across the county, and more people noticing them in recent weeks.
“With lots of people staying home in line with government advice, we’re getting more calls from concerned residents seeing smoke – those unaware that it’s coming from a controlled burn. So, we’re asking that if you plan to have a bonfire or light a fire pit, please let your nearby neighbours know to avoid concern, and to help reduce the number non-critical 999 calls we receive.”
The fire service may not respond to call outs regarding bonfires where the burning is taking place in a controlled and responsible manner. Anyone having a bonfire is urged to take care and follow fire service safety advice at https://www.kent.fire-uk.org/your-safety/home-safety/a-z-of-safety-what-are-the-risks/bonfires/
If you need urgent help, essential supplies or medication, please contact the 24 hour helpline – called Kent Together – which provides a single, convenient point of contact for anyone in the county who is in urgent need of help during the Coronavirus outbreak. It is a collaboration between KCC, central Government, District, Borough and local councils, the voluntary and community sector, the NHS and other partners to ensure help is at hand for vulnerable people. Please got to www.kent.gov.uk/KentTogether or by calling on 03000 41 92 92