Northern Ireland news

Police patrols stepped up at popular beauty spots

Enjoying the sun at Crawfordsburn.

POLICE patrols were set up close to popular beauty spots across Northern Ireland yesterday in a bid to quell the rising number of people flocking to coastal towns.

It comes after an increase in visitors to beaches and seaside towns over the bank holiday weekend.

On Sunday, the PSNI were forced to close roads around Portrush after large crowds of people descended on the town.

READ MORE: Appeal for people not to flock to seaside towns amid upsurge in visits

Assistant chief constable Alan Todd also revealed yesterday that there were similar increases in visitor numbers in Portstewart and Newcastle.

He said they had "received a number of reports yesterday (Sunday) of people visiting local beauty spots, beaches and parks across Northern Ireland".

"In particular the North Coast, where we had put in place traffic diversions, we spoke to a number of non-residents who had travelled to the town from a variety of areas.

"In Portstewart, we saw a similar rise in visitor numbers to the area. Large numbers of people were also reported in Newcastle.

More people out and about on the Northwest Causeway Coast in Portrush over the bank holiday weekend. Picture by Justin Kernoghan/Photopress

In a bid to curb the number of people visiting popular beauty spots across the north, police officers yesterday patrolled a number of routes leading to the coastal areas in particular.

There were patrols set up in Ballynahinch to monitor visitors to Newcastle, with similar operations also in place in the North Coast and Bangor.

"Each of us can play our part to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, protect the NHS and save lives and it is important we continue to adhere to Northern Ireland Executive regulations," added Mr Todd.

The SDLP also called on people to adhere to social distancing regulations when visiting popular tourist destinations.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd. Picture by David Young/PA Wire

Colin McGrath, assembly member for South Down, said: "Over this past weekend with slightly improved weather and the bank holiday, attendance at places such as Newcastle, Portrush and Portstewart has surged.

"This has pleased businesses with much needed footfall but concerned locals who are unhappy at the large numbers of people who have travelled to the resorts.

"The rules permit people to visit the towns and the rules permit businesses to re-profile so, for example, cafes and restaurants can become takeaways.

"However, it is critical that people adhere to the social distancing rules to stop the spread of the virus."

Cara Hunter, SDLP assembly member for east Derry, added: "Many local people are worried about the numbers of people and the lax attitude of some to the social distancing rules.

"We want to rebuild our tourism towns and support local businesses but not at the expense of the good work we have all done as a community to suppress this virus.

"I would urge people who travel and visit these towns that they remember the guidelines and stick to the regulations."

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