AS another weekend arrives, organisations across Dorset are again urging visitors and residents to think carefully about where they are going and if it is safe to do so.
If it is busy in certain areas and social distancing can’t be maintained, the public are advised should head home.
The events from last weekend at Durdle Door and the huge numbers that flocked to Bournemouth beach and other beauty spots across the county reaffirm that some members of the public are not taking responsibility for their actions.
Dorset Council leader Cllr Spencer Flower said: “Last weekend saw issues in popular destinations with littering, people urinating and defecating in public, people camping overnight and people having dangerous campfires and barbecues – despite extensive warnings against this from all local agencies.
“We were very disappointed to see huge numbers of visitors ignoring manned roadblocks. Council employees were abused by the members of the public as they tried to manage the traffic. This is not acceptable.
“We are meeting with stakeholders this week, including MPs, landowners and police to agree a plan which we hope will help manage the huge visitor numbers to the Lulworth area.”
Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Councils Sam Crowe said: “As lockdown restrictions begin to ease gradually, it’s important to recognise we all need to take responsibility for controlling the spread of coronavirus.
“Alongside continuing effective social distancing, the NHS Test and Trace service will be key for us to contain local cases and prevent a second peak in infections.”
Incidents like the ones experienced in Dorset recently place a huge strain on emergency services.
Staff from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, RNLI, Dorset Police, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, South Western Ambulance Service Trust and the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance were all involved in responding to irresponsible behaviour last weekend.
Ken Wenman, chief executive of the South Western Ambulance Service, said: “Under normal circumstances we welcome all visitors to the South West, but these are not normal circumstances. If you are thinking about visiting either beaches or beauty spots, first consider if it is really necessary, if you decide it is then please do look after yourselves and stay alert!
“Follow current government guidance on not staying overnight and be aware of social distancing.
“Of course we stand ready to attend those who do need our help in an emergency, but please bear in mind the demand on our resources is high and that during the current the COVID-19 crisis our crews have to wear PPE, and will need to consider their own safety and that of their patients.”
The public are also being asked not to litter, camp overnight or use disposable barbecues.
Chief fire officer Ben Ansell said: “We have had some very significant incidents since the lockdown measures have been eased. One of the biggest risks we face as the local fire and rescue service, is the irresponsible use of portable barbecues and people having campfires.
“With conditions as dry as they are, we would urge everyone to think twice about having any barbecues or campfires at this time. Fires can quickly start and rapidly get out of hand. This is not only dangerous for my firefighters but also often causes lasting damage to our beautiful countryside as we have recently seen in Wareham Forest.”
Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan added: “Despite the fact the government is asking people to stay at home whenever possible, demand on policing in the county is as high now as it was the same time last year before the pandemic.
“Incidents such as the ones we dealt with at Durdle Door means our officers are unable to respond as quickly to other priority calls and incidents. We yet again urge people to act responsibly, use their common sense and make the moral decision to go home if an area looks too busy.
“Personal responsibility is key as we all enjoy these new freedoms. For those who are able to leave their homes as a result of the changes, think carefully about where you are going and how you will be able to keep your distance from others.
“Keep in mind the purpose of the regulations and the national effort to protect the NHS and save lives.”
Local authorities and emergency services are urging visitors to avoid the Lulworth area and be prepared for all popular destinations in Dorset to be busy.
If an area is busy and social distancing cannot be maintained, then the public are asked to consider whether it is safe or fair to visit, and to head home instead.
The relaxation on government guidelines is not a green light to flock to tourist hot spots, national advice is to still stay at home as much as possible.