Storm Christoph: No Covid fines for people fleeing floods, police say

York flood
Image caption,
Several flood warnings currently cover the River Ouse, which runs through York

People forced out of their homes due to flooding can stay with friends or family without the risk of a Covid fine, police have said.

North Yorkshire Police said there would be no enforcement action against anyone evacuated during Storm Christoph.

Parts of the county have been issued with an amber rain warning by the Met Office, with 22 flood warnings in place in North Yorkshire as of 14:00 GMT.

In York, the Foss Barrier is in operation, with flood gates closed.

Should they be required, hotels and B&Bs in York will also be used instead of rest centres for any potential evacuations, the city council said.

Matthew Robinson, of North Yorkshire County Council, said those who were not Covid positive, isolating or clinically extremely vulnerable may go to family or friends "if they cannot stay in their own property".

"If somebody is Covid positive or is requiring to self isolate we can work together to find an appropriate location for them," he said.

"We'd encourage them to use their own vehicle but we do have the ability to move Covid-positive residents out."

Ch Insp Charlotte Bloxham, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "I would reassure the public that if you are having to take action to evacuate yourself from your own properties to go and stay with a family member then we wouldn't be looking to take enforcement action in those circumstances."

Image source, Met Office
Image caption,
An amber rain warning is in place until 12:00 GMT on Thursday, with a wider yellow warning also issued

The amber rain warning remains in place until 12:00 on Thursday, with heavy rain combined with already saturated ground causing high river levels across the county.

Dr Victoria Turner, public health consultant at North Yorkshire County Council, said it was imperative to act if there was a "real risk to life from flooding".

"The rules still apply in terms of doing absolutely everything you can to make sure you keep a distance as much as possible, washing your hands regularly, wearing face coverings and keeping indoor areas well ventilated," she said.

In a statement, the government said it had provided guidance to help regions "manage evacuations and sheltering in a way that is as Covid-secure as possible".

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