EXPERTS from Wiltshire’s emergency services and health authorities are urging people to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Sunny weather is forecast on the third weekend of the government’s lockdown but people are being encouraged not to give in to the temptation to head outside unless it’s absolutely necessary.

The warning comes as 881 more people hospitalised with coronavirus in the UK died, bringing the total up to 7,978.

Chair of Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum and Wiltshire Police’s Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said

: “I know the past few weeks have been incredibly challenging for people, as the financial, economic and social implications of these necessary restrictions hit home.

“But it is important to reiterate how vital it is that we continue to follow the government’s guidelines and stay at home.

“I know that after weeks of social isolation people may start to feel fatigued, and the temptation may be there this weekend to pop out for a picnic, or arrange to meet a friend for a long walk.

“However, the best way that you can support our NHS and help keep both yourself and everyone else safe, is to stay home and avoid all unnecessary travel.

“I know many people’s normal Easter plans would include getting out into the countryside and visiting some of Wiltshire’s beautiful landmarks and beauty spots.

“But, remember, we will have ample opportunity to do that when all this is over – for now, we need to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

The current government guidance is to use open spaces near your home where possible, do not travel unnecessarily, only go outside alone or with members of your own household, keep at least two metres apart from anyone while outside, take hygiene precautions while outside and wash your hands once back indoors.

Leader of Swindon Borough Council David Renard said: “I'd strongly urge people to continue to follow the official guidelines around social distancing this bank holiday weekend.

“The government has asked local councils to keep their parks open so people can use them for exercise to maintain their health and wellbeing. With this in mind, those who wish to exercise will be pleased to know that Swindon’s parks will remain open, though residents will be unable to drive to them.

“I'd remind people that sunbathing, having picnics or barbeques or undertaking other similar activities is, to be frank, irresponsible behaviour. If this advice is ignored, as it has been in other areas of the country, we may need consider closing Swindon’s parks, so please follow government guidance and act responsibly.”

Deputy director of Healthcare NHS and deputy centre director for Public Health England Debbie Stark said: “

We know that this is going to be particularly challenging this weekend but doing so will help to protect the NHS and save lives across the south west.”

Chief executive of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group Tracey Cox said: “I’m fortunate enough that I get to hear first-hand the heart-warming and faith-restoring stories of local health and care staff going above and beyond for their communities.

“It’s this quiet, everyday heroism that moves us all to clap and cheer outside our homes every Thursday evening. While our applauding is a grand gesture of public support, we can also, perhaps more importantly, show individual support for our hardworking colleagues by staying at home this Easter weekend."