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Dorset Police have issued a warning to people to stay away from the county during the Easter weekend.

Worried that the promised warm weather might bring visitors to Dorset despite the coronavirus restrictions, the force Tweeted: ‘Dorset is closed. Please do not visit us now.’

police dorset closed
The blunt Tweet from Dorset Police on 9 April.

It continued: ‘You will be welcomed back when the time is right. We will be policing our roads and other transport networks over the Easter weekend and ask you not to travel.’

The tough message follows a joint call from Dorset Council and the police for local people to stay at home over the Easter break.

Leader of Dorset Council, Councillor 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.’

Chief Constable James Vaughan, of Dorset Police, said: ‘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.

‘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.

‘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.’

Local people can sign up for updates from their local council’s that include latest advice along with a whole host of ideas and activities to do safely during the covid19 outbreak. Sign up now at www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/emailnews and www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/e-news.

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.

In Wiltshire the Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum  also people urged to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel over Easter bank holiday “

Chair of Wiltshire and Swindon LRF Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said the vast majority of people across the county were adhering to the Government’s advice, but an extra effort was needed to keep people safe over Easter. He said: ‘I know the past few weeks have been incredibly challenging for people, as the financial, economic and social implications of these necessary restrictions hit home.

‘But it is important to reiterate how vital it is that we continue to follow the Government’s guidelines and stay at home.

‘I know that after weeks of social isolation people may start to feel fatigued, and the temptation may be there this weekend to pop out for a picnic, or arrange to meet a friend for a long walk. “

‘However, the best way that you can support our NHS and help keep both yourself and everyone else safe, is to stay home and avoid all unnecessary travel.’

He added: ‘I know many people’s normal Easter plans would include getting out into the countryside and visiting some of Wiltshire’s beautiful landmarks and beauty spots.

“But, remember, we will have ample opportunity to do that when all this is over –for now, we needto stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’

The current Government guidance is:

•Stay local -use open spaces near to your home where possible -do not travel unnecessarily

•Only go outside alone or with members of your own household

•Keep at least 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times

•Take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors.

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