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Coronavirus: Police unease at bank holiday deluge at NI beauty spots

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Dozens of people enjoy the beach at Helen’s Bay in Co Down yesterday

Dozens of people enjoy the beach at Helen’s Bay in Co Down yesterday

Photopress

Busy Main Street in Newcastle, Co Down, as hundreds of cars travelled to the seaside town

Busy Main Street in Newcastle, Co Down, as hundreds of cars travelled to the seaside town

Philip Magowan / PressEye

Portrush was quiet apart from a few walkers and surfers

Portrush was quiet apart from a few walkers and surfers

Freddie Parkinson

Portrush was quiet apart from a few walkers and surfers

Portrush was quiet apart from a few walkers and surfers

Freddie Parkinson

Dozens of people enjoy the beach at Helen’s Bay in Co Down yesterday

The PSNI has expressed disappointment that many families ignored lockdown advice and descended on local beauty spots to enjoy the bank holiday sunshine.

Despite warnings from Chief Constable Simon Byrne ahead of the weekend, thousands headed for the seaside to enjoy the good weather.

They travelled as the number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Northern Ireland rose to 514, with eight more deaths reported by the Department of Health on Monday.

The department also reported a further 39 cases of confirmed Covid-19, bringing the total number of positive cases here to 4,609.

The number of people tested for the virus over the last 24 hours was 1,084.

Police had urged people to consider if their actions were "responsible and reasonable" when thinking of heading out for the bank holiday, and though they warned they would still use enforcement powers over large gatherings, they had added that there would be fewer road checks on those heading to popular tourist spots.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said that every individual here continues to have a personal responsibility to follow regulations.

"We continue to work with our colleagues in the NI Executive Office, the Department of Health and agencies across the public sector to jointly fight the spread of the virus," he said.

"Each and every one of us has a personal responsibility to follow the NI Executive regulations and do everything we can to stop the spread of Covid-19.

"The public should be well aware of the advice from our public health partners and the Government about social distancing and movement and, on that basis, we would encourage people not to drive to local beauty spots for their daily exercise as others may have the same idea and social distancing may not be achievable.

"It was disappointing to see that in some areas numbers of people did travel to beauty spots today.

"However, I want to thank those who adopted a sensible approach and followed the advice given.

"Officers will continue to apply their discretion, but I appeal to people to stay at home as much as possible and play their part in fighting the virus."

A spokesperson for the Executive said the relaxation of measures should not encourage people to act irresponsibly.

"Thanks to the actions of the public, the Executive was able to ease some of the harsh restrictions people have been living with during lockdown," they said.

"However, ministers made it clear that the relaxation of any measure carried an element of risk and appealed to the public to continue being responsible and not endanger themselves or others.

"Everyone is urged to continue following the public health advice and be sensible about not travelling to spaces where it will be difficult to observe these measures, which are still critical in the fight against Covid-19."

Belfast Telegraph