Suffolk residents urged to ‘do the right’ thing ahead of bank holiday warm weather
PUBLISHED: 07:21 22 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:24 26 May 2020
‘Do the right thing’ - that is the message being conveyed to Suffolk residents considering trips to tourist hotpots ahead of forecasted bright weather over the upcoming bank holiday.
With coronavirus lockdown restrictions slightly relaxed to allow for people to travel for exercise, fears linger among community leaders that large gatherings could result in a spike in coronavirus cases.
Sunny weather has seen Suffolk’s parks and beaches see an upturn in visitor numbers in the past few days, with bright skies and temperatures higher than 20C predicted for most of the next week.
With the spring bank holiday coming up on Monday, Steve Gallant, leader of East Suffolk Council, has urged anyone considering trips to the coast, public parks or any other tourist destination to consider the potential risks to themselves and others.
Despite the daily number of confirmed Covid-19 cases falling in recent weeks, Mr Gallant warned “we are not out of the woods yet” and urged residents to take part in the recently-introduced ‘Stick With It Suffolk’ social media campaign.
Mr Gallant said: “As I’ve already said to the communities of East Suffolk, a little flexibility in what we can and cannot do is welcome.
“But people really do need to think very carefully about where they go and what they do when they get there.
“Social distancing remains incredibly important and the guidelines around that are clearly much harder to follow if you find yourself in a busy location, full of other people who had the same idea as you.
“The advice that I would give is absolutely clear. Think very carefully about the logic of heading to tourist hotspots during busy times because there is no question that the health risk to you, your family and others will be increased.
“We’ve done really well so far, however we are not out of the woods and the county-wide message to ‘stick with it Suffolk’ could not be more important right now.”
Many properties on the Suffolk coast are used as second homes, with residents in towns such as Southwold and Aldeburgh have reported an influx of visitors throughout the lockdown.
As many of the owners of these homes come from London - the worst-hit city in the UK in terms of confirmed coronavirus cases - there have been persistent fears the disease could spread to east Suffolk. where the proportion of people over 70 is one of the highest in the country.
Covid-19 poses a greater risk to health among elderly people, with the vast majority of deaths in the UK recorded being amongst people aged 70 and over.
However, Mr Gallant said East Suffolk Council remains firm on the government’s guidelines - which state people should be staying at their primary residence only during this time.
He added: “There is bound to be a temptation for some to sneak away and stay in properties, including caravans, they may own elsewhere, particularly along the east Suffolk coast. “My message to them is clear and simple – don’t.
“It is not permitted and you are not welcome to stay, no matter how careful you may think you are being.”
Mr Gallant’s comments come as the RNLI and HM Coastguard launch a new campaign urging people to “take responsibility for themselves and their loved ones” on beaches.
With no RNLI lifeguards currently present on beaches, the charity has urged people to take caution when considering going for a swim.
Wednesday was the hottest day of the year so far in the UK, with temperatures reaching a blistering 26C in parts of Suffolk.
The scorching weather saw many visitors flock to Suffolk’s coastal resorts, including Felixstowe, Aldeburgh and Southwold.
Susie Medland, who manages Munchies in High Street, Aldeburgh, described the town on Wednesday as “packed” and “insane”.
Mrs Medland, who has not reopened her cafe since closing in mid-March, said: “I have got a business to run and I don’t want to make tourists feel unwelcome.
“But visitors need to be responsible and respect social distancing.
“We don’t want to be part of a second wave or put anyone in harm’s way by reopening.”
In Southwold, town mayor Ian Bradbury said: “It was manic towards the beach and promenade. The high street was much busier than before and there were more cars coming into the town.
“But, in my experience, people were trying to follow the social distancing guidelines and behaving themselves.” Only around 30% of beaches will have an RNLI lifeguard present throughout the peak summer season, it has been confirmed.
Gareth Morrison, RNLI head of water safety, said: “If the charity’s lifeguards were present on the beaches today, they would be preventing many incidents before they even occurred by directing people to safe swimming areas, highlighting dangers such as rip currents and advising people not to use inflatables. “These preventive measures are not currently in place, meaning people could find themselves in danger if they are not reading the signs and following the relevant safety advice.
“It is important that anyone visiting the coast understands that the beach can be a dangerous environment and you must take more responsibility for you and your family this summer.”