Public urged to ‘think twice’ and protect and respect Dorset’s communities

29 May 2020
Dorset Police is urging residents and visitors to ‘think twice’ when out and about in the county to ensure lives are not being put at risk unnecessarily.

Relaxation of lockdown legislation, coupled with warm and sunny weather, has seen a huge rise in the number of people travelling into Dorset to spend time at beauty spots, nature reserves and coastline.

As the country continues to fight COVID-19 and keep the R rate down, the public is being asked to take responsibility for their actions and do the right thing to avoid spreading the virus and reduce the impact on local communities. 

Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “Despite the ongoing lockdown measures, we are experiencing a high volume of visitors to Dorset and this is in part due to the beautiful weather we are experiencing.

“However, what is apparent is that in some locations social distancing cannot be adhered to because of the sheer number of people there. The message from Dorset Police and our partner agencies is that if an area looks too busy, please go home or elsewhere.

“The Prime Minister has announced further relaxation of the rules from Monday 1 June and this will see more people meeting up outside and in private gardens. This will be welcome news to many families and friends, but please be mindful that we all need to stay alert and play our part to prevent more people from becoming infected or dying from this terrible virus. 

“I’m also urging everyone to remember that overnight stays in campervans, motorhomes and second homes are not allowed. We are receiving increased reports of these breaches in Dorset and our officers will continue to patrol hotspot areas, engage with the people involved and encourage them to go home.

“I have been saddened to hear about the tragic deaths that occurred off the coast in Cornwall last weekend and a teenage boy missing off the coast of Dorset. It is important for people to remember that not all the beaches have lifeguards on duty and therefore it is imperative that everyone remains alert when enjoying the sea.

“This week the fire service has dealt with a number of heathland and woodland fires and we are supporting them in reminding the public that our forests and heathlands are important and we need to do all we can to protect them. 

“The risk of further devastating wildfires in heath and woodland across Dorset and has been assessed as extreme due to current conditions and the fire service is asking people to resist having any form of barbecue or outside fire in these areas.
 
“Finally, I continue to be impressed by the way the vast majority of Dorset residents and visitors are behaving. Thank you for doing the right thing to follow the guidance, respect our communities and protect the people who live here.”

Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “As we begin to emerge from lockdown, it’s vital that visitors and locals alike continue to respect and protect our rural and coastal communities. 

“I appreciate everyone wants to make the most of the good weather we’ve been enjoying, but please remember we have a large number of older people living in our county who are far more vulnerable to COVID-19. While Dorset has so far thankfully seen relatively few cases compared with other parts of the UK, if we do experience a spike it will be someone’s elderly relative who will be likely to pay the price.

“Many of the access routes onto our beaches and beauty spots are incredibly narrow spaces, on which it will be impossible to remain two metres apart from others, so bear this in mind and if these areas are busy please go elsewhere.”

Between Friday 27 March and Wednesday 27 May 2020 Dorset Police issued 882 fixed penalty notices to people who have allegedly breached the COVID-19 (coronavirus) restrictions. Very few fines have been issued over the last week, the rise in numbers are as a result of the fines being processed and recorded. 
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