Swindon Borough Council has urged residents not to fall foul of new laws intended to target the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions.
Tomorrow (Friday, 28 August), tougher measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 will come into force in Swindon including tougher fines for all breaches of social distancing laws.
Last weekend, an illegal rave in Swindon was shut down by the Council and Wiltshire Police, and from tomorrow, people facilitating or organising illegal raves like this, as well as unlicensed music events or any other unlawful gathering of 30 people or more may now face a £10,000 fine.
Fines of £100 will also continue to be issued to those who participate in illegal gatherings and those who have already received a fine will see the amount doubled on each offence, up to a maximum of £3,200.
In light of these new measures coming into force, and with the August Bank Holiday this weekend, the Council is urging residents to continue to practice social distancing and to ensure they don’t fall foul of the new measures.
Steve Maddern, Swindon Borough Council’s Director of Public Health, said:
“Mass gatherings threaten to undo the brilliant work of so many people in Swindon to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and we have been working closely with Wiltshire Police to ensure that such gatherings do not take place.
“I would like to remind residents of the Borough that these tough new measures, which will come into force tomorrow, apply to everyone and we will not hesitate to take action where necessary.
“We need to continue to do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus and to keep our case rate down. We need to break the chain of transmission and we are asking the public to keep this vital message at the forefront of their minds over the Bank Holiday weekend and beyond.”
Supt Phil Staynings, from Wiltshire Police, said:
“We welcome any change in legislation to aid the job of our officers and our partners to help prevent and, if necessary, disperse any large illegal gatherings.
“I accept that the majority of people abide by the law and will refrain from attending any big gatherings – especially as we all have to be mindful and adhere to the current government social distancing guidelines at the moment.
“If you are planning to attend similar events this weekend or in the future, we would strongly advise you not to do so.
“I’d also urge communities to continue sharing information about illegal mass gatherings so we are able to intervene at the earliest opportunity and help keep people safe. You can report crimes and intelligence to us via our website or by calling 101.”
Earlier this month, the Council launched a new communications campaign – entitled Swindon: It’s up to all of us – to reinforce a number of important public health messages to residents.
The campaign has been urging all individuals in the town to play their part in minimising the spread of COVID-19 to keep themselves and the community safe.
People are being asked to stay at home, even if they have mild symptoms of coronavirus, namely: a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of, or change to people’s sense of smell or taste.