Coronavirus: Seaside visitors defy social distancing advice

Image source, Eddie Mitchell
Image caption,
Hove seafront in East Sussex attracted many visitors on Saturday morning

Thousands of people have been heading to seaside attractions in the sunshine despite government advice to avoid social gatherings due to coronavirus.

One beach in Sussex is to close, while Lincolnshire's police and crime commissioner called for caravan sites and arcades in Skegness to shut.

PCC Marc Jones said there were "hundreds of thousands of visitors".

West Wittering Beach was being shut at 18:00 GMT after "thousands" of people turned up, the estate office said.

There are also reports of large crowds along the East Yorkshire coast.

Other resorts, including Brighton and Hove, were also reported to be busy.

'Arcades open'

Mr Jones said it was "time for everyone to be socially responsible or be made to be".

Local councillor Jimmy Brookes said it was "madness," adding: "Skegness is packed, cafes and arcades are open."

A member of the management team in West Wittering said: "The crowds were into the thousands - dispersed on to the large beach - but it's the method of getting here... we're at the end of a peninsula, there's one way in and one way out."

Police in Cumbria had earlier warned tourists not to travel to the Lake District and urged them to follow the government's advice on social distancing, which is intended to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Skegness dentist Dr Mitchell Clark, who voluntarily shut his practice last week over the coronavirus outbreak, said many local businesses were "acting like nothing is happening".

In a video posted on Facebook he called for caravan sites and businesses to close and people to remain at home.

"I was appalled to see as I drove home Skegness looking like it does on a busy summer day," he said.

"I view these actions as massively, massively socially irresponsible and I personally think those involved should be ashamed of themselves."

He added: "We are a small town. We have a cottage hospital supported by two main district hospitals and this is a disaster waiting to happen."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The Swan Inn in Lewes, Sussex, has now reopened as a farm shop following the orders for pubs to shut to fight coronavirus

On Friday Butlin's announced it was closing its Skegness resort as well as its sites in Bognor Regis and Minehead.

Lincolnshire Police said: "We expect business owners will want to support the measures designed to keep us all safe.

"If officers see specified businesses open, they will remind them of the government advice."

However, in Lewes, Sussex, the Swan Inn has now reopened as a farm shop following the orders for pubs to shut, and urged customers to keep a distance from each other.