'Think twice': plea to tourists planning Dorset visit

'Think twice': plea to tourists planning Dorset visit

Published by George Sharpe at 12:30pm 15th May 2020.

Would-be tourists are being asked not to flout the new guidance by travelling to Dorset unnecessarily.

The South West has one of the lowest rates of infection across the country, and leaders want to keep it that way.

Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Council Sam Crowe said:

"The government's advice is clear, we need to stay at home as much as possible and limit contact with other people. It's not a green light to flock in huge numbers to Dorset's local beauty spots.

"As the Prime Minister made clear, we still need to do everything possible to allow our NHS to recover and continue to provide essential treatment and services."

Top O'Town Car Park

Car parks close to beaches and other local beauty spots will remain closed to discourage visitors coming from afar.

But, some facilities and locations will bere-opened to give local people more options for exercise.

Dorset Council Leader Spencer Flower said:

"Our overriding priority is the safety and wellbeing 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."

There has been an expansion to the reasonable excuses, and business openings, in England under the new guidance. It means people can: 

  • collect goods from a business permitted to remain open and visit recycling centres, garden centres and outdoor sport courts
  • take part in activity associated with the sale or letting of residential property - including visiting estate agents and attending house viewings 
  • visit public open spaces alone or with members of your household for recreation 
  • visit public open spaces or take exercise with one member of another household, as long as they stay two meters apart
Police Car

Over Easter weekend alone Dorset Police handed out 23 fixed penalty notices to people breaking the lockdown restrictions.

One of those incidents in Bridport included a person camping on a beach with a friend. Another FPN was handed to two men who travelled through the county from Portsmouth to Devon. They were picking up a car to place it in storage.

There have now been 255 notices handed out in Dorset.

Chief Constable James Vaughan, of Dorset Police, said: 

"The efforts of the public over the past weeks have meant our officers have rarely had to enforce the Government regulations - thank you for playing your part in this. 
"As many of us are now able to spend much more time outdoors, each of us need to take responsibility for doing that within the restrictions set out by the Government. The public is being asked to think and do the right thing. 
"We enforce the law and not government guidance so we have no role in enforcing social distancing, wearing of masks or avoiding public transport.
"We still have a role where people are gathering in large groups with those not in their household - as this is not legally permitted in the regulations.
"We will use common sense and discretion to determine what's reasonable.  Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the regulations and guidance and encourage people to follow what is being asked of them. Enforcement is a very last resort."