POLICE will be stopping motorists from today (Thursday) to make sure their journeys are entirely necessary.

The vehicle checkpoints will be to insure motorists are complying with Government restrictions and only making essential journeys, says the North Yorkshire force.

Earlier this week, the Government announced significant changes to the public's way of life, instructing people to stay at home and only go out for basic necessities, a medical need, to care for or help a vulnerable person, or travel to work but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

Last weekend, many popular areas in the Dales experienced high numbers of visitors, including Malham, prompting residents to put up signs urging motorists to turn back.

Latest Government measures are backed up by legislation allowing the police to fine people and disperse of groups of people who do not comply.

Officers will be stopping vehicles and asking motorists where they are going, why they are going there, and reminding them of the message to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker, said: “The new and significant restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on Monday evening spell out very clearly what each and every one of us must do to save lives. The message is clear and the warning stark. Stay at home, save lives.

“These are the lives of the people we know and love. Our partners, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, grandparents. You may never be in such a position again where your simple actions will lead directly to saving lives."

He added: “Alongside the new restrictions, the Government announced new powers to enforce them. I know the vast majority of people will follow the restrictions without question, as they have done so already.

“And as the legislation comes into force, the roadside checks will help us to reinforce the messaging. So we ask people not to make non-essential journeys, and to understand the definition of essential. We sincerely hope that we won’t have to resort to enforcement action, but if people do not comply, we will.

“We’ll also be out on foot, with a highly visible policing presence, to disperse groups, enforce the social distancing measures and remind people of the seriousness of the situation we are facing.

“Please continue to look after each other, try and make the most of this unprecedented opportunity to spend more time with your loved ones, and remember we are here for you if you need us.”

The checkpoints will be unannounced and could appear anywhere any time.

Advice from the police is:

* Do not travel to local beauty spots to exercise, do it from home alone or with a member of your household

* Do not go out "just for a drive"

* Do not meet up with others including family and friends

* Do follow the Government restrictions without question

* Do understand the grave seriousness of the situation that we are facing

* Do share the Government's advice if you have a social media account

For some commonly asked questions, visit: www.northyorkshire.police.uk/COVID19FAQ