Dorset is 'closed to visitors' this Easter, with residents from across the county being urged to stay at home amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

BCP Council, Dorset Council and Dorset Police have joined forces ahead of the four day weekend to remind people that any exercise should be taken directly from their front doors.

It comes as the number of people in Dorset who have died from coronavirus reached 46. As of Tuesday, 242 people in Dorset had contracted coronavirus according to Public Health England.

Last weekend, beauty spots and beaches were visibly quieter as people abided by the lockdown rules.

Read more>> Bournemouth beach busy but most keeping distance

Swanage and Wareham Voice:

But there have been fears the four-day Easter weekend could lead to more people venturing out.

Chief Constable James Vaughan, of Dorset Police, said in a video: "Normally during a typical sunny Easter holiday our beaches and parks would be swamped with residents and visitors enjoying this beautiful part of the world.

"Like other tourist areas, Dorset is currently closed to visitors while we do all we can to stop the spread of the terrible virus, protect the NHS, and save lives."

He said 'on the whole' people are following restrictions and despite the good weather, they are staying home.

"Thank you, together we are making a difference."

He added: "If you have to ask yourself if your journey is essential, it probably isn't."

 

And the chief constable also offered an explanation of Dorset Police's interpretation of the legislation around going out.

“I fully appreciate the impact the Government restrictions are having on us all. However, we must not lose sight of why they are in place – to reduce the spread of the disease, protect the NHS and save lives.

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Swanage and Wareham Voice:

“There has been much discussion around what the legislation does and doesn’t specifically prohibit. The legal aspects of the legislation are based upon whether a person’s actions are reasonable or not.

“The key to making this work for everyone in Dorset is for everyone to be reasonable. If you can exercise with a run or a walk near your home, it is reasonable for you to do so. Our interpretation is that it is not reasonable, for the majority, to drive to a specific place such as a beach or beauty spot. It is also not within the spirit of what we are trying to achieve, regardless of whether that is “lawful” or not. Please stay at home.

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“I would like to reiterate my thanks to the public for working with us and supporting our efforts to enforce the new Government restrictions. Our Dorset communities have been fantastic at following these rules and I am certain our combined effort in this county will make a difference to combatting this terrible disease.”

Cllr Vikki Slade, leader of BCP council said, “Many people are using their daily exercise time to explore their own neighbourhoods on foot, looking out for rainbows or teddy bears in windows, and discovering an amazing community spirit right on their doorsteps. This is a great way to get to know your local area better, which I hope will help to build local support networks – a wave from a window or smile at a front door today could be the foundation for closer communities in the future.”

Leader of Dorset Council, Cllr Spencer Flower, said, “We know how fortunate we are to live in a beautiful part of the country but our enjoyment of that, for now, will have to wait. Our beaches, parks, beauty spots and countryside will all still be there for us to enjoy when this crisis is over. There will be more summers, more bank holidays, and more sunny days in the future, but now is not the time for venturing out, driving to the places we know and love.”

Alongside the appeal to local people, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s Coast with the Most initiative and Visit Dorset are asking potential visitors to avoid the county for now, and instead plan their visit for a future date.