With the school summer term due to finish for many this week, councils, emergency services and other organisations have been busy preparing for a wave of visitors arriving to experience all that the county has to offer.
However, with the ongoing public health situation residents and tourists are being encouraged to remain conscious of the need to act responsibly when out and about this summer and respect their surroundings and local communities.
Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya, of Dorset Police, said: “The majority of our communities and visitors have continued to behave in a considerate and responsible manner throughout these difficult last few months and, even though many of the restrictions previously in place have eased, we would ask that to continue as we enter the peak summer holiday period.
“We have already seen surges in visitor numbers to the county during sunny spells and we are expecting these to continue over the coming weeks. We have been working hard to ensure a thorough policing plan is in place and have been liaising with our partners to ensure we are as prepared as possible.
“As the summer getaway begins we are also likely to see an increase in traffic on our roads. We are urging people to plan ahead and expect delays. Please drive safely and take regular breaks if you are travelling long distances.
“This is obviously a key period for our hospitality sector and I hope that everyone can enjoy it responsibly so we can continue to make the most of everything that is on offer.”
Councillor Vikki Slade, leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, added: “This weekend marks the start of the big summer holidays and we encourage everyone thinking of heading to the beach to take responsibility. We know the summer can be busy but if everyone takes a little time to plan their journey, perhaps use car parks further away from the hotspot seafront areas, consider the impact on other people using the beach or promenades and ensure they leave only footprints from their visit, then we can all have an enjoyable experience.
“Should visitor numbers start to rise we will have resources in place to respond to any issues arising and will be in close contact with our multi agency partners to ensure the area is managed safely.”
Councillor Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset Council said: “With schools officially breaking up this week and with more people in the UK expected to take ‘staycations’ rather than holidaying abroad, we are of course, anticipating more visitors to come to Dorset in the weeks ahead.
“We want to reassure residents that we have thorough plans in place to avoid a repeat of scenes at some of our most popular visitor destinations recently. Dorset is a great place to live, work and visit so it’s important we work together to keep it special.
“We are asking everyone to respect our communities by following social distancing advice, not to bring disposable BBQs and please take any litter home.”
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “As Dorset welcomes visitors back, I’d like to remind people that many of our residents are still understandably very nervous about COVID-19.
“Enjoy our beaches, beauty spots and hospitality industry, but please do so safely and in a way that respects our communities. Stick to the guidance and don’t do anything that will put undue pressure on our police and emergency services or could increase the chances of a spike in cases.
“And as we return to business as usual across the county, I’d also like to remind everyone to respect our roads. Officers will be out and about over the next few months looking out for dangerous and selfish motorists. And while there is never any excuse for drug or drink driving, if you try to get away with it in Dorset this summer you will get caught, lose your licence and potentially your job.”
With the schools breaking up, young people are also being reminded of the need to take act responsibly over the holidays.
ACC de Reya said: “I know this has been a tough time for children and young people recently, with disruptions to school and the various restrictions that have been put in place. However, we need you to continue to do your bit by not gathering in large groups and observing social distancing guidance.
“I appreciate young people will want to go out and have fun this summer, and they deserve to, but I want them to avoid taking unnecessary risks, such as swimming in unsupervised stretches of open water, and recognise the dangers of taking substances like alcohol and illegal drugs.”
Public Health Dorset has the following harm reduction advice for those who do choose to use substances:
- Stay with friends that you trust and never use substances on your own
- Start with a very small amount and wait for at least an hour before taking more so you can see your reaction to the substance
- Avoid mixing drugs, including alcohol and prescription medication
- Stay hydrated, keep cool and take breaks out of the sun
- Don’t be afraid to get help for yourself or a friend and be honest with the emergency services about what has been taken.
The fire service is also stressing the need for people enjoying the sunny weather to be ‘fire-aware’.
Area Manager Seth Why, of Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are asking the public and visitors to the area to leave your barbecues at home as they are a significant fire risk to the countryside.
“Whilst we understand that the warm weather will leave many wanting to go out and enjoy it, we cannot stress the importance of being fire-aware, this follows recent significant fires started by disposable BBQs.
“We would also like to remind people to make sure their children are staying safe while outside over the summer as we do see an increase in deliberate fires during school holidays.”
The NHS is offering advice on what to do if you require medical treatment.
For ailments or injuries which require urgent care, please call 111 and you will be given advice or booked in for a face-to-face appointment at the appropriate site. If you or someone you are with has an emergency or is in a life-threatening situation, don’t hesitate call 999. For everything else, call 111 or go to 111 online.