Council car parks at Dorset beaches and country parks to stay CLOSED

Council car parks at Dorset beaches and country parks to stay CLOSED

Published by Maria Greenwood at 8:04am 13th May 2020. (Updated at 11:00am 13th May 2020)

Dorset Council’s Leader, Cllr Spencer Flower, has a clear message for potential visitors or day trippers thinking of coming to Dorset, “Thinking of visiting Dorset now? Please think twice.”

Dorset Council has decided that car parks at visitor destinations including beaches and country parks across Dorset will stay closed for the time being.

The only exception is the Swannery car park in Weymouth which will re-open later this week for road safety reasons.

Weymouth Swannery car park closed

Public toilets will also remain closed due to the difficulty for social distancing to be maintained at these facilities.

Some council-run car parks in town and village centres have remained open through the COVID outbreak for local residents.

These will continue to remain open but parking charges will now be reintroduced.

'Concern over impact of government guidelines'

This follows the latest guidelines from government, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday 10 May, outlining the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions.

The 50 page document published by the government yesterday stated that although people are still encouraged to stay at home as much as possible, people can now “travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance” and “day trips to outdoor open space, in a private vehicle, are permitted” as long as people practise social distancing.

portland bill police lockdown

Dorset councillors and many local residents are concerned about the potential impact this new guidance may have on spreading the virus and increasing the infection rate.

Cllr Spencer Flower said:

"Our overriding priority is the safety and well-being of Dorset residents. We want to discourage people from outside the county and from areas with a higher rate of infection than Dorset from visiting our beaches and beauty spots, and inadvertently spreading the virus to local people.

"We are working closely with our partners, including Dorset Police, to monitor and review the situation. We will adapt our approach when the situation changes."

Weymouth beach almost empty

Dorset Council say residents in Dorset have co-operated well with the government’s lockdown over recent weeks.

Even on sunny bank holidays, the vast majority of people have stuck to the rules and stayed at home.

As a result, beaches and beauty spots have remained very quiet and the infection rate across Dorset is low compared to the rest of the country.

  • The southwest of England has had 7044 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date.
  • This means the southwest’s rate of infection – at 126 per 100,000 residents – is the lowest regional rate across the country.

The Dorset Council area has a large older population and many local residents have health conditions which mean they are vulnerable to risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

Cllr Spencer Flower continued:

"People who may be thinking of visiting Dorset from elsewhere in the country need to ask themselves, is this safe? Is this fair?

"We really look forward to welcome visitors back to our beautiful county in future, but it’s too early to take the risk right now."