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Coronavirus: PSNI beauty spot crackdown ahead of expected sun-soaked weekend

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As the heatwave is set to continue over the weekend visitors flock to the coast at Portstewart in Co-Derry, Northern Ireland. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 29-5-2020

As the heatwave is set to continue over the weekend visitors flock to the coast at Portstewart in Co-Derry, Northern Ireland. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 29-5-2020

As the heatwave is set to continue over the weekend visitors flock to the coast at Portstewart in Co-Derry, Northern Ireland. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 29-5-2020

The PSNI is upping patrols at beauty spots this weekend to prevent large crowds from gathering in the sun and flouting lockdown restrictions.

After expressing shock this week at how some people had flouted restrictions over the bank holiday weekend, Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd called for the public to act responsibly.

Police patrols will now be stepped up around beauty spots, resorts and transport hubs.

“I understand that as time goes on, and with the current spell of good weather, some people may be tempted to get out and about and make the most of the sunshine,” he said.

"However, as a police service, our key role is to support our public health colleagues and the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure we all play our part in stopping the spread of the virus and help save lives.”

Each and every one of us has a personal responsibility to follow the NI Executive regulations. ACC Alan Todd

ACC Todd noted that the latest data showed the R-number rating, used to measure the rate of infection, had actually increased since the first lockdown restrictions were lifted.

“This means that every one of us needs to make informed and sensible decisions about our conduct over the coming days to ensure that we are protecting our own health and the health of others,” he said.

Officers will be focused this weekend on the issues of crowds gathering, alcohol consumption in public places and road safety - especially speeding and drink driving.

“We will continue to engage, explain and encourage people to make the right choices and we will enforce when necessary,” he said.

He also urged the public not to drive to beauty spots for exercise this weekend.

“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.”

Sinn Fein’s West Belfast MP Paul Maskey added to the calls for restraint, warning young people that gathering in crowds this weekend could kill.

“I am appealing directly to those young people involved to act responsibly. Your actions can potentially have serious ramifications for your personal health, that of your family and also our community,” he said.

“By gathering in large crowds the spread of this virus will be accelerated. Increased infection will place our health workers under extreme pressure and will kill people in our community - that is both the brutal and sad reality.”

Mr Maskey said that both young and old had a responsibility to protect the vulnerable in their communities.

“As we approach this weekend, I am appealing directly to young people to please be part of the community Covid-19 response and to follow the guidelines.

“You can enjoy the good weather and meet up with up to six friends outdoors while adhering to social distancing but large crowds are not permitted for the benefit of your health and our community.”

The MP also called on parents and guardians to keep in touch with their children and know their whereabouts.

“Only by working together will we overcome this," he said.

Meanwhile, the RNLI have advised caution to those planning to attend beaches this weekend as no lifeguards will be on duty until later in June.

“As we move to a gradual relaxing of restrictions as advised by the Northern Ireland Executive and we experience the good weather, we expect many people to be eager to visit the coast.” said Karl O’Neill, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor.

“We ask those who are visiting beaches to continue to be aware of the inherent dangers and to avoid taking risks. The RNLI’s water safety campaign is advising people to keep their family safe when they are at the coast, avoid using inflatables and if they see anyone in trouble, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

Belfast Telegraph