'Stay Covid safe' message from Northamptonshire's health chiefs ahead of Prince Philip's funeral

Saturday's service coincides with the first weekend of shops and pubs reopening

Health chiefs are reminding residents to stay Covid safe as the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral coincides with the first weekend of shops and pubs being open.

Thousands are expected to hit town centres, retail parks and pub gardens for the first time since restrictions were lifted under step two of the roadmap on Monday (April 12).

That will all pause for a minute's silence at 3pm on Saturday (April 17) marking the funeral service for Prince Philip, who died last Friday (April 9) just two months short of his 100th birthday.

A minute's silence at 3pm will mark start of Prince Philip's funeral on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images

But some restrictions remain with indoor gatherings prohibited and a limit of six people getting together outdoors.

Northamptonshire's director of public health, Lucy Wightman, said: “Of course there will be many people who will wish to pay their respects this Saturday but let’s not undo everyone’s amazing work to get us where we are since lockdown started.

“I would ask that everyone considers the wider health risks of mixing between households and keeps these kinds of events within their household or bubble.

“This is not just about abiding by the law, it’s about continuing to ensure we limit transmission of a deadly disease, particularly to those who are more vulnerable.

Huge queues at Rushden Lakes as Primark reopened on Monday. Photo: Getty Images

“Some will have had their second dose of the vaccine, which will offer them a good level of protection, but it by no means guarantees immunity and large numbers of the population are yet to have a first or second dose.”

Monday's big reopening saw long queues at shops and packed beer gardens — and similar is expected over the weekend with decent weather forecast for the county.

Northamptonshire Police are continuing to enforce the Covid-19 legislation meaning that anyone who is reported for a breach could face a fixed penalty notice of between £200 and £6,400.

Assistant Chief Constable, Simon Blatchly, said: “We understand that people will want to pay their respects to the Duke of Edinburgh on Saturday, however we are appealing for people to continue to follow the Covid-19 restrictions while doing so.

“The Rule of Six applies to outdoor gatherings and mixing indoors is still illegal, unless you are eligible to be in a support bubble.

“Our officers and staff will pause to honour the minute’s silence at 3pm, however we will continue to enforce breaches of Covid-19 legislation throughout the weekend.”

The duke's funeral service is to be held in St George's Chapel at Windsor on Saturday with just 30 guests due to coronavirus restrictions.

Readers of the Northampton Chronicle & Echo, Northants Telegraph and Daventry Express can leave their own tributes to the duke in a Book of Condolence.