A local authority in Wales is now using drones to disperse groups of people congregating outside during the coronavirus lockdown period.
Neath Port Talbot council has employed the use of drones in Neath and Port Talbot town centres having teamed up with South Wales Police to identify hotspots where people are failing to follow the UK Government’s measures on social distancing.
The population has been told to stay at home unless they need to leave the house for one of four reasons – shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine, one form of exercise a day, any medical need, or travelling to and from work.
The council hopes the use of drones will help to remind people not following the rules about what their responsibilities are.
A spokesman from Neath Port Talbot council said: “Drones are now being used to distribute public information messages across Neath Port Talbot during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We have teamed up with South Wales Police to survey hotspots where people are not following government measures on social distancing.
“The drones are equipped with speakers that will transmit messages directly to the public.
“We are reminding residents to stay at home except for (reasons outlined by the Government).”
While some praised the measures, others claimed they were unnecessary.
Writing on Facebook, Carly Murray said: “This upset a lot of people today at Neath boots. People were waiting for prescriptions and people were very orderly and staying two metres apart. This drone turned up and changed the mood.
“As people were perplexed where it’s had come from and what they could do as they were waiting for Boots. People were annoyed to be told to go home when they were already stressed and fed up waiting hours for medications.”
Other parts of the UK have also seen the use of drones to enforce lockdown measures.
Dyfed-Powys Police are stopping drivers to check their journeys are essential.
Andy Williams, roads policing inspector at Dyfed-Powys Police said: “More people on the roads means a greater likelihood of vehicles breaking down or being involved in an accident, which puts extra strain on the emergency services. These extra interactions also increase the chances of the virus spreading and putting more people’s lives in danger.”
Derbyshire Police received criticism for using drones to check number plates of vehicles.
In North Yorkshire police are setting up checkpoints to determine if driver’s journeys were essential.