Essex town warns tourists ahead of ‘hottest weekend in months’

Sunseekers have been urged not to travel to Southend-on-Sea seafront ahead of what is likely to be the hottest weekend in months.

Temperatures are set to rise to an unseasonable 15C this weekend, and after weeks of snow and ice, Southend Borough Council is worried many will take the opportunity to travel outside of their local areas to enjoy the sun in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

It’s warned anyone travelling to Southend-on-Sea that seafront car parks will be locked, and Covid-19 rule breakers will be fined.

The warning is part of Southend’s ‘Stay safe, stay apart, stay local’ campaign, launched to avoid the busy beaches seen last May, where hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Southend seafront when lockdown rules were relaxed and weather improved.

Cllr Trevor Harp – Southend Borough Council’s cabinet member for health and adult social care – said: “We all welcome the forecast of bright and sunny weather conditions this weekend and this will see many more people wanting to get out, whether it’s for walks along the seafront, or visiting their local park or open space for exercise.

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“However, it is important to remember that we are still fighting this virus and that we continue to follow the national guidance that is currently in place and remain safe.

“This means when outdoors, you must keep at least two metres apart from anyone you don’t live with or who isn’t in your support bubble, and not mixing with other households indoors.

“Please also stay local. We all need to do our bit to stop the spread and control coronavirus and save lives.

“Although positive case rates continue to fall locally, and the vaccine roll-out is going well nationally and locally, we must not drop our guard.

“So please stay safe, stay apart and stay local.”

In recent months, despite poor weather, local authorities have caught people travelling to Southend from as far away as Sheffield.

Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety, has warned that action will be taken against Covid-19 rule breakers.

He said: “Whilst we await national announcements next week, my message to anyone considering visiting the Borough this weekend to enjoy the improved weather conditions is still please don’t visit Southend just yet.

“Please leave it for our locals just a little longer.

“An influx of visitors this weekend will make social distancing that much more difficult.

“The lower we can keep positive rates, the safer we can keep our community and the quicker we will be able to react to any national announcements, get back to doing more of the things we most enjoy and welcome visitors back to Southend safely.

“Please also remember that the police can take action against you if you flout the rules and meet in larger groups.

“This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices) of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.”

For the government’s rules on what is and what isn’t local, click here.

Essex Live