Dorset leaders ask for the public to use common sense and to ‘think twice’ before rushing to Dorset.
Following the Government’s announcements, public services in Dorset are appealing to visitors not to flout the new guidance by travelling unnecessarily to the county.
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.”
The South West has one of the lowest rates of infections across the country.
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.”
Some facilities and locations are being re-opened across the area to give local people more options for exercise and enjoy recreation in their household groups.
BCP Council Leader Vikki Slade said:
“We are pleased to open up local facilities so our residents can now enjoy our beautiful natural environment and return to the open spaces they love.
“The message to those outside of Dorset though is that we would like people to not come. We need our open spaces for local people to get out and exercise.”
In line with government advice these decisions are the first careful steps to modify measures in Dorset. If people are found not to be following social distancing guidelines, then these measures can, and will be changed.
There has been an expansion to the reasonable excuses, and business openings, in England under the amendments to mean 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
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.”