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Trick or treating in a pandemic? Please be sensible, urge police

Is it safe to be going to people’s doors and knocking?

15 October, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

HALLOWEEN trick-or-treating will not be banned in Camden, but police are urging families to “be sensible” as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Chief Inspector Pete Dearden, the “Covid commander” for Camden and Islington, told the New Journal: “People just need to ask themselves if what they’re doing is safe? Is it safe to be going to people’s doors and knocking? Is it legal even?”

He added: “They won’t know who’s behind the door, it could be someone vulnerable, so don’t put people in danger and abide by the measures such as the rule of six.”

London was placed in the lowest category in a three-tier lockdown system this week but the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan said that the increase in positive tests meant further restrictions were “inevitable” in the coming days.

Social media groups have been flashing with parents discussing whether it will still be possible for their children to knock on doors asking for chocolate and sweets on October 31.

Others are looking ahead to how Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year’s Eve might still be celebrated with no sign of a quick end to the coronavirus crisis.

Ch Insp Dearden said: “It’s a busy time of year and we as police don’t know what’s around the corner, in terms of further restrictions, nobody does. But we have plans in place to help us deal with changes. From next Monday, we’re launching our Autumn night plan which means that for three weeks Camden will experience an increase in activity to combat violence, street crime – which tends to see a spike this time of year – and robberies. We will be targeting prolific offenders, executing warrants and doing weapons sweeps as well as Covid enforcement.”

He added: “We’re alive to the fact that people can’t go to pubs or nightclubs after 10pm now and that as the weather gets darker, colder and wetter, and we enter the festive season, some people are having parties at home or in private residences which is harder to police. We’ve already seen a rise in this type of gathering and we’ll respond to each report appropriately.”

Police in Camden have consistently said that handing out fines for potential Covid breaches are a last resort.

“Most residents in Camden have responded really well throughout the pandemic which is perhaps why we have a relatively low R rate and have not needed a huge amount of enforcement. We just need to continue that effort,” Ch Insp Dearden said.

The local force which covers Camden and Islington has seen an increase in officers suffering from coronavirus, particularly young officers, he added, but said this would not affect the unit’s performance.

Starmer calls for a ‘circuit breaker’

HOLBORN and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer has called for a short national lockdown to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus, writes Richard Osley.

The Labour Party leader’s suggested “circuit breaker” would run for up to three weeks and cover half term to avoid more school closures.

His call came after the government introduced a three-tier system with varying levels of restrictions depending on how many Covid-19 cases an area has seen.

During a break, the government would have a chance to improve track and trace systems in order to help control the virus. Mr Starmer said implementing the measure would be to “follow the science”.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his tiered system was “the logical thing to do” because some areas of the country had many more cases than others.

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould urged residents to “be extra careful” and to follow public health advice, but said “we could see additional restrictions soon.”

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