Coronavirus: Sheffield Roma warned over social distancing breaches

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image copyrightSouth Yorkshire Police Neighbourhood Policing Team
image captionPolice explain social distancing rules with an interpreter during the coronavirus outbreak to non-English speaking groups in Page Hall, Sheffield

Police say they are facing "challenges in communicating the significance of the current situation" with non-English speaking groups over social distancing.

Interpreters have been used in Sheffield's Page Hall area to engage the Slovakian community about Covid-19.

South Yorkshire Police has reassured critics after pictures on social media showed groups in the streets.

Lockdown rules mean groups must not gather and people from different households must stay two metres apart.

Page Hall is home to a large Slovakian Roma community and South Yorkshire Police acknowledged that a significant amount of people living in the area do not speak English as their first language.

Supt Delphine Waring said: "This naturally presents challenges for us in communicating the significance of the current situation.

"It also means it is more difficult to explain the specifics of social distancing and keeping people apart, especially when there are cultural differences to consider too.

"Communication with our communities and building relationships is something that the local team have been working hard to improve for a while now and that is paying off."

'Small groups gathering'

South Yorkshire Police said high-visibility patrols would continue as the Easter weekend approached and it had distributed thousands of leaflets in different languages explaining the rules.

Ms Waring added: "The message is getting through, and over the last few days we have seen a greater understanding of government guidance, which is fantastic.

"The reality is we are still seeing some small groups gathering outside properties and in public spaces.

"Although this is a minority of people, if this continues we will use enforcement measures in order to protect the public, the NHS and save lives."

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