POLICE have said they will not allow “blatant and flagrant” breaches of coronavirus rules, as we head into what could be a “difficult” winter.

And they have created a dedicated Covid-19 response team to stop individuals putting communities at risk.

More than 180 fines have been given to people in Somerset for breaching the coronavirus guidelines since March.

A spokesperson from Avon and Somerset Police said: “The coronavirus legislation is in place to save lives and stop the spread of this dangerous virus.

“The vast majority of people have stuck to the rules and follow the guidance in place and we thank them for this.

“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public and explain the restrictions in place, encourage them to comply and enforce whenever necessary.

“As we head into what could be a very difficult winter, we’ll be moving more swiftly to enforcement because we cannot allow blatant and flagrant breaches of the restrictions to jeopardise the selfless efforts our communities have put in over the past seven months.

“We’ll also continue to work with all our partner agencies to keep the public safe and make sure the restrictions to protect us all are adhered to.”

The Covid-19 response team launched on Monday, October 26 and they will be reacting to incidents called in by the public and patrol areas highlighted by partner agencies and our own intelligence that present a threat to public health.

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson said: “We are fortunate the number of COVID-19 cases in the South West are not as high as some other parts of the UK, but they are rising and we cannot afford to be complacent.

“The national lockdown in March and April meant demand for non-COVID police matters dropped and it freed up resourcing for us to have more officers out on the streets, working with our communities to help defeat the virus.

“However, the situation is different six months on, as demand for police attendance has increased to pre-lockdown levels. Officers have responded magnificently, but combining traditional policing priorities with additional COVID-19 work is a challenge for forces across the country.

“By creating this dedicated team, it will enable those officers to concentrate on dealing with reports coming in and proactively police areas where problems have previously occurred.”