Warning against visits to coast as police plan lockdown patrols
- Credit: PA
Visitors have been warned against travelling to the north Norfolk coast this weekend as police lay on extra patrols.
It follows reports of people heading to the coast to see the seals during the second coronavirus lockdown, which is expected to finish on December 2.
Temporary assistant chief constable Julie Wvendth said officers would be less patient with persistent offenders this time than during the first lockdown earlier this year, when officers took a “engage, explain and encourage” approach.
T/ACC Wvendth said: “We’re trying to encourage people not to travel to north Norfolk. I think people are travelling from outlying areas to the north Norfolk coast.
“I understand that people may want to get out in the fresh air this weekend, and consider going to Horsey to see the seals, but I urge everybody to comply with the national lockdown and stay at home.
“Days out should be avoided while the current restrictions are in place and driving to the coast or to the county’s beauty spots is not regarded as essential travel.
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“Officers will continue to be out in their communities, speaking to people as we always do and taking the opportunity to explain the rules and ask what people are doing and why they are out.
“While we continue to work within our traditional policing model, with the consent of the public, we will enforce the regulations and act against those who choose to deliberately ignore or break the rules, and in doing so put people’s lives at risk.”
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Sarah Bütikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council, said: “During our Gold response group meeting this week, we discussed concerns raised by local residents that many people still appear to be travelling further than essential to take exercise.
“This puts them and our local residents at unnecessary risk, we are therefore grateful to Norfolk police for responding to our request for assistance and working with us to address this situation.”
Angie Fitch-Tillet, the council’s portfolio holder for the coast, said: “While we are in national lockdown, we ask that visitors do not make long journeys into our district and please follow national guidelines.
“North Norfolk will gladly welcome visitors back to our beautiful area when it is safer to do so but for now we ask that you respect the guidance.
“Together we can get through this and welcome you back sooner.”
Under the lockdown rules, people are urged to stay at home, although people are permitted to take part in a limitless amount of exercise.
However, the government says that should be done locally wherever possible.
The plea comes after an incident in early November in which a visitor to Winterton Beach was seen trying to stroke a seal pup, which resulted in two bulls turning on him.
This led to Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS) and Natural England constructing a 1.2km chestnut fence along that part of the beach to protect pregnant grey seals and their pups over the winter.
Meanwhile, police have warned anyone thinking of attending a protest that they would face fines if they failed to follow lockdown regulations.
It comes less than a week after separate protests in Norwich which resulted in eight people being arrested.
Assistant chief constable Nick Davison said that since November 5, there was no longer an exemption to the Covid-19 rules for people participating in protests.
He said: “While recognising people normally have the qualified right to peaceful protest and that this is an important part of our democracy, these are unprecedented times in which we all have to follow rules to stop the spread of coronavirus.”
Five people travelling in a car from Suffolk to Norwich are among 10 people across Norfolk fined in the first week of the second coronavirus lockdown.
T/ACC Wvendth said the fines ranged from £100 or £200 per person and were mainly Norwich-focused.