Coronavirus: Rushmere Golf Club used for picnics and sunbathing

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Rushmere Golf ClubImage source, Rushmere Golf Club
Image caption,
The course at Rushmere Golf Club is built on common land which is criss-crossed by public footpaths

People used a golf club's course for sunbathing and having picnics on despite the coronavirus restrictions.

Rushmere Golf Club said its greenkeepers were "overwhelmed" by the number of people flouting the rules.

The golf course is on common land near Ipswich and is currently closed for play in adherence with the government guidance.

Heath warden Bob Gosden said: "The things I've witnessed since lockdown have really been quite incredible."

"Sunbathing and picnicking on fairways, greens and bunkers, can no way be construed as exercise," he said.

Mr Gosden said Saturday was the busiest he had seen on the heath, which is owned by Rushmere Commoners and leased to the golf club.

In addition to one family cycling across the 12th green, he said two large bags of empty alcohol bottles were found near a bin in the morning, suggesting a gathering the previous night.

Rushmere Golf Club said three greenkeepers had carried out a staggered patrol of the course on Saturday and Sunday to try to encourage people to disperse, adding that there were about 50 to 75 people.

Chairman Steve Potts said there were a lot of people "enjoying the sunshine but obviously completely ignoring the government rules".

Rushmere Commoners urged people to respect the common, its wildlife and golf course, and said police would patrol the site from time to time.

Verulam Golf Club in St Albans had similar problems last week.

Suffolk Police Chief Constable Steve Jupp said the force would be reviewing and reflecting on what had happened over the weekend so it could "prepare properly" for the Easter weekend.

He said fines had been issued where people had refused to disperse at the request of officers.

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