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

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

Police have today appealed for people not to flock to seaside towns amid an upsurge in visits over the weekend.

It comes amid reports that police had closed roads around Portrush after large crowds of people descended on the coastal town.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “I am appealing to the public to continue to play their part to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and stay at home on this Bank Holiday Monday. 

“We received a number of reports yesterday (Sunday, 24th May) of people visiting local beauty spots, beaches and parks across Northern Ireland.

“In particular, in the north coast, where we had to put in place traffic diversions, we spoke with 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. 

“Today our officers will be on patrol in a number of popular beauty spots across Northern Ireland and I want to remind everyone of the advice from our public health partners and Northern Ireland Executive about social distancing and movement.

In a post on Twitter earlier yesterday, the PSNI had also appealed for people to not travel to popular beaches or beauty spots as "social distancing may not be achievable where large crowds are gathered".

But last night Colin McGrath, SDLP 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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