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Coronavirus: PSNI up patrols and checkpoints as grieving daughter in emotional plea for public to 'stay home'

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PSNI officers patrol the Whiterocks beach at Portrush, County Antrim.

PSNI officers patrol the Whiterocks beach at Portrush, County Antrim.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

PSNI officers patrol the Whiterocks beach at Portrush, County Antrim.

The daughter of a Belfast woman who died after contracting coronavirus has appealed for people to stay at home this Easter weekend.

Josephine Brown (70) passed away at the Mater Hospital on Tuesday, two weeks after contracting the virus.

Her youngest daughter, Rhonda Tait, pleaded with people to "stay inside to save lives".

"The thought of this happening to other families and affecting them in the way it has affected our family... the thought of that happening over and over again is absolutely devastating," Rhonda told the BBC.

She was speaking as the Chief Constable warned that the PSNI will issue fines from today onwards if members of the public breach travel restrictions during the crisis.

Simon Byrne told Stormont's daily media briefing that the public would see "a different approach and attitude" from police officers in the next few days in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr Byrne said that from today his officers would be stepping up patrols and checkpoints at beauty spots and on roads going to resorts and "asking motorists to explain why they are going about their journey".

"If you don't have a reasonable explanation for a necessary journey, we will turn you back and if you don't listen to that advice, we will issue a fixed penalty notice," he added.

Mr Byrne said police were "picking up frustration" from those living in popular resorts that people have come to their second homes or are visiting and putting them at risk. He added: "Whilst this is traditionally seen as a holiday period and I don't want to be seen as a killjoy, we have to remember, as has been said time and time again, this is a health crisis and not a holiday."

Mr Byrne said police have issued nearly 100 community resolution notices directing people to behave differently.

First Minister Arlene Foster added that while she knows this is a special time, Easter 2020 would have to be "like no other".

The DUP leader urged people to stay at home and to follow all other public health guidelines.

"We cannot behave like we normally do or interact with relatives or friends as we normally would.

"Please, stay at home. Please do not undertake non-essential travel. Please exercise outdoors, once a day, close to home. Please do not travel to beauty spots, no matter how sunny it is," she said.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill also said people should not hold gatherings over Easter.

Mrs O'Neill said the surge in the spread of Covid-19 cases would occur this weekend and urged people to stay at home.

"We know that this is a special time this weekend and one where we normally get together, we congregate, we make dinner together, we sit down as a family together.

"We take trips but this is not normal circumstances and if you behave as normal, more people will die," she added.

"That's a very direct message, but it's a message I think people need to understand right now."

Belfast Telegraph