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Drive to the coast if you like - but the seaside’s still in lockdown

PUBLISHED: 14:39 12 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:45 12 May 2020

A sign warning visitors to stay safe on the cliff tops at Hunstanton  Picture: Chris Bishop

A sign warning visitors to stay safe on the cliff tops at Hunstanton Picture: Chris Bishop

Archant

You can drive to the coast if you like from tomorrow - but just about everything will be closed apart from the beaches when you get there.

An almost empty promenade at Hunstanton on May 12, the day before lockdown was partially lifted  Picture: Chris BishopAn almost empty promenade at Hunstanton on May 12, the day before lockdown was partially lifted Picture: Chris Bishop

Updated government rules on the coronavirus pandemic have relaxed the “stay local” message so people can drive to outdoor open spaces “irrespective of distance”, as long as they respect social distancing guidance.

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But many coastal attractions remain closed along with some car parks, visitor centres and public toilets, as well as cafes and pubs.

Holkham Estate tweeted: “Following the recent government update, we are carefully working on plans to gradually and cautiously re-open our main car parks later this month. The safety of our staff, visitors and the local community will be our clear priority.”

Holiday lets and second homes remain off-limits. Although there are fears a trickle of visitors have been flouting the rules in north and west Norfolk.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker (inset) who is warning second home owners to stay away after travel restrictions are lifted   Picture: ArchantNorth Norfolk MP Duncan Baker (inset) who is warning second home owners to stay away after travel restrictions are lifted Picture: Archant

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said on social media: “I’m pleased to say that, having talked to ministers, north Norfolk’s concerns were heard. From Wednesday there is no limit on distance you can travel for exercise, but accommodation remains closed. Leaving your home to move to another/second home remains against the rules.”

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The RNLI said there were no lifeguards on beaches and anyone travelling to them should take the necessary steps to keep themselves safe. It said they incuded taking care near cliffs, checking weather and tide times.

Geoff Needham, spokesman for the Hunstanton station, said visitors should not take part in extreme sports like kitesurfing.

“I’m not being a killjoy but they’re not essential activities,” he said. “They are extreme sport, they do carry a high risk no matter how proficient you are.”

Geoff Needham of Hunstanton RNLI  Picture: Matthew UsherGeoff Needham of Hunstanton RNLI Picture: Matthew Usher

Each year, the station is called out to rescue surfers who have got into difficulty. Mr Needham said the crew could not social distance from each other or any casualties they picked up on the boat.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency tweeted: “In England, people need to respect our coastline - the sea can catch us all out. Beaches may not be lifeguarded. Follow @GOVUK rules. #StayAlert.”

It came after a Bank Holiday weekend which saw increased calls for assistance, including coastguards, a lifeboat and police being called to a kayaker in difficulty off the Dorset coast. The RSPB’s flagship reserves at Titchwell and Snettisham, near Hunstanton, remain closed.

A spokesman said: “Our priority will be to ensure that we only reopen a reserve when we have everything in place to keep our members, visitors, volunteers and employees safe. We also must make sure that the wildlife that calls our sites home is ready to receive attention after a couple of months completely on its own.”


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