Police urge people to stay away from beaches over bank holiday weekend

23 May 2020, 08:25

Bournemouth beach last weekend
Bournemouth beach last weekend. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Police and local councils have urged people to keep away from popular beaches and beauty spots as forecasters predict hot weather over the bank holiday weekend.

It follows pictures of crowded beaches in Brighton, Southend and Bournemouth last weekend.

The images raised concerns over social distancing following the easing of some lockdown measures.

People can now travel to beaches, parks and beauty spots around the country, with no limit on how far they can drive.

The Met Office is predicting temperatures as high as 26C over the bank holiday weekend, with coastal areas expected to see highs of around 20C.

During Friday's Downing Street press conference, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "It is inevitable that obviously the public will be out and about a lot more, but of course our message is clear to the public - yes, enjoy being outdoors, we have encouraged people to go out, but we have put a very clear caveat around that.

"This is all conditional. You can enjoy being outdoors in the sun providing you are following the advice and we continue to stop and contain the spread of the infection."

Local councillors and police are now warning people to keep safe and avoid travelling to busy areas.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Underwood said the numbers of people arriving at Bournemouth and other beaches in the county were an issue.

When put to him whether the numbers arriving were becoming a problem, he said: "Yes, they are.

"And of course there is the obvious dilemma of the lockdown reducing and normal policing picking up starting to realise itself.

"For example, yesterday was the busiest day for Bournemouth police for nine weeks - it was a normal Friday but yet the police were the busiest they have ever been because things are starting to pick up and numbers are increasing."

He added: "The main issue we are worried about is the influx of people coming into Dorset and of course there are two issues - one is travelling to the South West and the other is people attempting to stay in the South West.

"If you are stopped on an arterial road in the South West the five forces could stop you and question you, and if they think you are planning on staying overnight, they can then go to the next level. They will use enforcement if they have to."

Police patrolling Brighton beach last weekend
Police patrolling Brighton beach last weekend. Picture: PA

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Councillor Carmen Appich, from Brighton & Hove City Council, said anyone travelling to the area, which was packed last weekend, "should consider very carefully how their journey will impact on others".

People are similarly being advised not to visit Blackpool, Hastings, Isle of Wight and Morecambe Bay after councillors pleaded with people to be sensible.

After pictures showed crowds at Southend in Essex earlier this week, the council's leader said the easing of lockdown restrictions has put the council in a "very difficult position".

Councillor Ian Gilbert said on Friday: "For many weeks we ran a successful Don't Visit Southend campaign, but the government's lifting of restrictions have put us in a very difficult position as day trips and sunbathing are allowed, and takeaways can be open for business."