Communities across Dorset are being asked to keep up the good work in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Agencies tasked with stopping the virus in its tracks have written an open letter to everyone across the county thanking them for their efforts and urging them to keep following the restrictions.
Local authorities, NHS services, police, fire, utilities and voluntary and community sector organisations, under the banner of the Local Resilience Forum (LRF), are speaking with one voice.
Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “I am writing as chair of the Local Resilience Forum Strategic Coordinating Group to personally thank you, on behalf of all partners, for your unwavering support as we continue to tackle the challenges of dealing with this worldwide pandemic.
“Since March last year agencies from across Dorset have come together and are currently meeting three times a week to ensure we provide a multi-agency approach to this emergency and to support our local communities during these very challenging times.
“It is certain that a lot has changed in policing during this time. Asking people to stay at home and limiting people’s social interaction is something our officers and staff never thought they would ever have to do.
“As new restrictions and rules have been imposed by the Government, we have had to adapt quickly to these changes, and I remain so very proud of our officers, staff and volunteers for the way they have supported our communities. I believe we have taken a measured approach before carrying out any enforcement and have recognised these restrictions placed on all our lives are unprecedented.
“However, the stubborn minority of people refusing to abide by the regulations will be dealt with robustly.
“I would like to personally thank the good people of Dorset for your support as we continue to police this pandemic. We know from the messages we have received from many of you, particularly on social media, that the vast majority understands the gravity of the situation we are in and that you agree and support our approach to policing, especially with regards to recent protests in Bournemouth.
“We have always policed by consent in the UK and throughout the last year we have listened to local voices and this has influenced how we have policed this pandemic. In most of our daily encounters, it has been enough to engage with people, explain the rules and encourage compliance. The majority of the public have worked with us and I thank them for that.
“You are all aware that nationally and locally the situation is extremely serious. Thousands of people are losing their lives each week. Our NHS colleagues in Dorset are struggling to cope with the demand being placed upon them and are putting themselves at risk every day to protect the lives of others. The number of people in Dorset’s hospitals battling coronavirus has doubled since New Year’s Eve and it is anticipated we have not yet reached the peak.
“We need to keep working together and continue to have the collective approach across the county we have seen, from the majority, since the first lockdown began. It is only if we do this that we will beat the virus and save lives.”
As we continue to all live within these restrictions we wanted to share these collective messages:
Cllr Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council, said: “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of people living in Dorset have followed the Government’s COVID-19 guidelines to keep themselves and others safe. It is only during the past couple of weeks that we’ve started to see higher numbers of COVID-19 cases in the Dorset Council area, and it’s possible the new variant of the virus is causing that.
“Can I offer my sincere thanks to everyone who has followed the rules, and urge you to keep doing so at this challenging time. Please stay at home where possible, stay safe, and together we’ll get through this.”
Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Councils, said: “I would like to thank people across Dorset, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole who have been following the rules to protect the public’s health, month after month.
“No one wants to be in a lockdown for the third time, but unfortunately this is the only choice we have to constrain coronavirus. Stopping social mixing is the best way we can collectively tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and do our bit to stop transmission levels rising.
“We are still seeing high case numbers particularly across the BCP Council area so please keep doing what you are doing. Stay at home unless it’s for essential reasons, like shopping for food or going to medical appointments – including getting your vaccine. We need everyone to follow the rules, it is the only way that we will break transmission and start to bring our coronavirus cases down.”
Cllr Drew Mellor, Council Leader at BCP Council, said: “We know this lockdown is incredibly hard for many and would like to say thank you to all those who are following restrictions and playing their part in stopping the spread of this deadly virus.
“Case numbers in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole have been rising at an alarming rate over recent weeks, and the single most important action we can all take is to stay at home. People across our community are making huge sacrifices – whether they are facing loneliness, struggling with home-schooling, dealing with a business suffering or missing the social interaction they value so much in day-to-day life – and we are extremely grateful for that. Please also remember that support is available for those who need it, so don’t be afraid to ask.”
Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell, from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our priority at all times is to help keep our communities and our staff safe. We are grateful to everyone complying with the lockdown restrictions, and following the hands-face-space guidance, which helps us achieve this priority.
“As a service we are doing all we can to support our partners during the pandemic – for example, firefighters have been driving ambulances for many months now and staff across our service have been supporting NHS and other care workers by fitting face masks for them, as well as continuing with normal fire and rescue activities.
“We all need to keep pulling together to get through this difficult crisis and continued support from the public is central to this.”
Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan continued: “Our joint message is very clear – please stay at home. We are all doing as much as we can to support you and to protect the health of your family, friends and communities. Please play your part in helping us to help you.”