'BE sensible and don’t breach the rules – we don’t want anyone to begin 2021 with a fine.'

That is the message from Chief Superintendent Claire Armes from Avon and Somerset Police who is urging people to not break the rules and celebrate the New Year responsibly.

Officers will be on patrol on streets across Somerset tonight and call-handlers will be working around the clock to keep the public safe.

Somerset is in Tier 4 meaning that pubs and bars cannot open so it will be a different New Year’s Eve to many years with people needing to stay at home.

People are being urged not to break the rules, mix indoors, organise parties or take part in large gatherings with people outside of your household.

Chief Supt Claire Armes said: “This year is one that has seen people make huge personal sacrifices, key workers have put in incredible shifts and families have lost loved ones. We’re thankful to the overwhelming majority of people who have complied with the rules and public health advice this year.

“We fully understand that people want to celebrate the start of 2021, but we’re urging everyone to remember the COVID-19 restrictions when they do so. Come New Year’s Day, the pandemic will not be over; it’s vital everyone does what they can to prevent the virus spreading, to protect the NHS and ultimately save lives.”

Police are also asking people to be vigilant and call 101 if they see any signs of unlicensed music events taking place within their communities.

They say early intervention is key to stopping such events taking place and revealed there have been a number of instances this year where calls from the public have enabled officers to attend and stop events from getting underway.

The key signs are:

  • Promotion on social media
  • Sound equipment being unloaded from vans
  • Large number of people congregating in an unexpected location – e.g. a rural setting or industrial site
  • Organisers of such events can be fined up to £10,000 under COVID-19 legislation.

Chief Supt Armes added: “We’ve consistently said we cannot police our way out of this pandemic. We continue to engage with the public, explain the rules and encourage them to comply. Enforcement remains an option for those who blatantly breach the legislation.

“Ultimately though people need to take responsibility for their own actions. We’d ask anyone thinking of attending or organising a gathering or party not to do so.

“Somerset’s move to tier 4 status means it is vitally important people stay at home tonight and those areas in tier 3 should not see households mixing either.

“Ignorance is not an excuse nine months into a pandemic in which tens of thousands of people have died and case numbers are rising. Don’t be selfish and put your own desire to have a good time over the health of others, including your loved ones.

“Our officers will again be out and about tonight but we’d please urge people to be sensible and don’t breach the rules – we don’t want anyone to begin 2021 with a fine.”