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Hottest day of the year - but people urged to think twice over trips to coast

PUBLISHED: 09:58 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:38 20 May 2020

Norfolk is set for its hottest day of the year. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk is set for its hottest day of the year. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Norfolk is set for the hottest day of the year, so far, but people have been urged to be sensible if they do head to the coast.

Sarah Butikofer, Liberal Democrat leader at North Norfolk District Council. Picture: SUPPLIED.Sarah Butikofer, Liberal Democrat leader at North Norfolk District Council. Picture: SUPPLIED.

Facilities such as car parks and toilets remain shut on north Norfolk’s coast as council bosses look to strike a balance between people heading to areas for exercise, following the easing of coronavirus restrictions, and the danger that beauty spots being swamped with visitors could spread the disease.

Forecasters are predicting temperatures to rise to 26C today, meaning the region could be warmer than parts of the Mediterranean.

But, with social distancing measures due to coronavirus still in place - and the bulk of the coast not being patrolled by lifeguards - people have been urged to think carefully before heading to beaches.

Sarah Butikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council, said: “The message is that, if you are going to come, please act sensibly.

“Please remember that our public facilities, including coastal car parks and toilets are closed at the moment.

“And it is important that people still socially distance. Not everyone is open but, if you are, for example, queuing for an ice cream, then maybe have just one person queue and others stand away at the side, as that will make it easier to socially distance.”

She also said people needed to be aware that the majority of beaches do not have lifeguards on duty, so there could be dangers from swimming in the sea.

There was criticism at the weekend of ‘selfish’ day-trippers on some parts of the Norfolk coast.

Waxham Sands Holiday Park claimed it was “invaded” by “conceited and selfish” day-trippers over the weekend - who ignored signs at the entrance that the park was closed.

The Norfolk Coast Partnership, made up of representatives of local councils and community representatives last week urged people to stay away from the coast.

In a statement, they said: “While it is not in our nature to encourage people to stay away, it is currently vital that we do so to ensure these special places are not overwhelmed.

“In many places on the coast there is not the infrastructure to support the necessary social distancing or to protect the vulnerable wildlife, communities, staff and volunteers.

“We need to all work together to protect the people, the wildlife and the places we cherish. We need to ensure we do not cause harm in order to be able to enjoy them in the future.

“The organisations responsible for looking after the coast will be opening in a gradual and phased way, we urge you to bear this in mind when considering travelling to the coast for your exercise.

“Many car parks are still closed or operating at a reduced capacity; public conveniences are closed; and businesses with conveniences are also closed. This means there is a severe lack of provision on the coast for visitors.

“It is also a critical time of year for ground nesting birds, who are going in to their breeding season and have taken advantage of lack of footfall to nest in places such as paths.

“A sudden influx of visitors puts the fragile nature of the coast at risk, as well as local communities.”

The Norfolk Resilience Forum, made up of organisations such as councils, police and hospitals, last week launched its Protect Norfolk campaign.

The campaign aims to get the message across that people must respect social distancing and behave in ways to keep themselves and others safe.

Among the messages was that people should still keep at home as much as possible, keep washing their hands thoroughly and regularly and keep obeying social distancing guidelines.

After today’s sunny weather, tomorrow (May 21) could be a different story. Although highs of over 20C are still expected, there is a good chance of thunderstorms.


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