This weekend was due to signal a further step forward in the recovery phase from the COVID pandemic but, as we heard from the Prime Minister on Friday, the latest raft of restrictions due to be lifted were not all able to happen.

This was due to a rise in the prevalence of the virus in the community in England.

As a result, the Government has delayed the opening of a number of high risk settings – such as bowling alleys, casinos and the piloting of larger crowds in sporting venues – until August 15 when this will be further reviewed.

We also heard late last week that the legislation will also change on August 8 to make it mandatory for the public to wear a face covering in other settings – including galleries, museums and places of worship.

It is crucial that we all continue to play our part in coming together in the national response to ensure we control the virus and save lives.

For us in Wiltshire, however, our COVID response has remained consistent from the start.

We police by consent and we look to engage and educate before we move into enforcement of the restrictions.

When the Government announced it would be mandatory to wear face coverings in all shops and supermarkets, we, along with all other police forces in the country, didn’t know what that would mean for us in terms of a spike in demand.

What we actually saw was the opposite – people taking more responsibility for their actions and on the first day of the law change, we only had three reports from the public about businesses not taking the rule change seriously.

I have been open with you all from the start – I do not have enough officers to place at every supermarket or shop to enforce the regulations nor is this a good use of our resources. Instead, we remain committed to investigating crime, bringing offenders to justice and, most importantly, protecting those most vulnerable in our communities.

Our focus on, and commitment to, engaging with the community we serve is evident in the fact that we’ve not issued a Fixed Penalty Notice for a breach in the legislation or made a COVID-related arrest since the start of June.

As we await further clarity from the Government about what new settings the wearing of face coverings will become mandatory in, we know that the vast majority of our communities here in Wiltshire and Swindon will continue to make the right decisions.

The Government has been clear that they will continue to bring about changes to the restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. We all have a part to play in this so I would ask that you all carry on taking personal responsibility for your actions to safeguard yourselves and others.