Downing Street urges people not to break rules over bank holiday weekend as UK councils warn Brits to 'stay away'

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  • May 22, 2020
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Downing Street has urged the public to “continue to abide by the social distancing rules” over the bank holiday weekend.

With scorching temperatures expected over the weekend , councils with responsibility for beauty spots have also warned people to stay away.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “All of the anecdotal evidence suggests that the vast majority of the public are still following the rules.

“And by doing so are helping to save lives and we thank them for that.

“We recognise the sacrifices which the public are making but as we head into the long weekend we must all renew our efforts and continue to abide by the social distancing rules.”

Fears have been raised about a lack of social distancing at beauty spots (PA)

Pictures of crowds flocking to beaches in Brighton and Southend in recent days have raised fears over social distancing.

Following the easing of some lockdown measures last week, there are no restrictions on how far people can go to get to the countryside, National Parks and beaches in England.

But the National Trust is urging people across England to stay close to home and explore local green spaces and countryside this weekend, as part of the effort to make easing of the lockdown work.

With the Met Office forecasting that temperatures could reach highs of 23C on Monday, many people may be planning trips to the beach.

Visitors to Brighton in East Sussex will find stewards stationed around the beach to encourage physical distancing and direct people to less busy parts of the seafront if it becomes too busy.

Stewards in Brighton (Getty Images)

Councillor Carmen Appich, from Brighton and Hove City Council, said on Friday: “We are so proud of the city we share but to promote Brighton and Hove as a place to visit at this time would be utterly irresponsible and an insult to the NHS staff and frontline workers who have protected the whole county throughout this devastating crisis.

“We urge anyone thinking of travelling to the city at this time to consider very carefully how their journey will impact on others and what sort of experience they will have when they arrive, without access to the usual high standards of hospitality.”

Elsewhere, Hastings Borough Council has said the area is “closed to visitors from outside the town”.

People enjoy the afternoon sunshine on Hampstead Heath in north London (AFP via Getty Images)

Holidaymakers are similarly being told that the “clear advice” from the Isle of Wight Council is they should stay away.

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: “We want people to think twice before visiting and ask if their journey here is really necessary?

“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.”

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In London, the Metropolitan Police warned that officers will take action against those who disregard restrictions.

“We expect that members of the public will be going outside this weekend to enjoy open spaces alone, with members of their household or another member of a different household, but we ask that they respect the lockdown restrictions that are in place,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said.

Beaches have been busy in recent days as the UK enjoys warm weather (PA)

“We have been made aware of a number of proposed plans for gatherings this weekend and we can only reiterate the importance of sticking to the Government guidelines.

“Restrictions around activities that do not support social distancing remain the same, meaning that group sport, outdoor barbeques or parties, and other gatherings are still not permitted.

“Officers out on patrol this weekend will continue to encourage and support our communities to comply with the restrictions to reduce the risk to public health.

“We do not wish to use means of enforcement, but where deemed necessary, officers will take action against those that disregard restrictions and enforcement will be sought as a very last resort.

“The vast majority of the public have been adhering to the restriction set by the Government and we thank them for their continued efforts to observe the revised rules.”

After seeing the number of people who headed to its coastline this week, Sefton Council in Merseyside has adopted a new campaign ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

“Wish you weren’t here!” is the council’s take on the picture postcard message it is sending to people thinking of travelling to its beaches from across the North West.

A number of councils have told Brits to stay away (PA)

And the leaders of three local authorities bordering Morecambe Bay have also asked people to think twice before visiting the area.

In Cornwall, council leaders have warned there is no lifeguard cover and a large coastal swell and spring tide will bring hazardous sea conditions over the weekend.

Rob Nolan, cabinet member for environment and public protection at Cornwall Council, said: “Some restrictions about exercising have been lifted, but we have no lifeguard cover yet, so beach safety is a real concern.”

He said social distancing could be an issue on busy beaches and in car parks.

“This is really not the time to overwhelm our beaches – facilities such as public toilets aren’t open yet, and with no trained lifeguards in post on the shore, any coastal incidents risk calling out a Lifeboat crew,” Mr Nolan added.

“This is unnecessary and means a Covid-19 contact risk for both victims and rescuers.”

He said people should not be holidaying in Cornwall and must return to their “principle residence” each night.