Car parks in leisure locations across the BCP Council area are now open, but Dorset Council has decided that, at this early stage, car parks at visitor destinations including beaches and country parks will stay closed for the time being. The only exception is the Swannery car park in Weymouth, which will re-open later this week for road safety reasons.
Public toilets will also remain closed in the Dorset Council area due to the difficulty for social distancing to be maintained at these facilities.
Some Dorset council-run car parks in town and village centres have remained open through the COVID-19 outbreak for local residents. These will continue to remain open but parking charges will now be reintroduced.
Leader of Dorset Council, Cllr Spencer Flower said, “Our overriding priority is the safety and wellbeing of Dorset residents. We want to discourage people from outside the county and from areas with a higher rate of infection than Dorset from visiting our beaches and beauty spots, and inadvertently spreading the virus to local people.
“We are working closely with our partners including Dorset Police to monitor and review the situation. We will adapt our approach when the situation changes.”
The southwest of England has had 7,044 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date. This means the southwest’s rate of infection – at 126 per 100,000 residents – is the lowest regional rate across the country.
Cllr Spencer Flower continued, “People who may be thinking of visiting Dorset from elsewhere in the country need to ask themselves, is this safe? Is this fair? We really look forward to welcome visitors back to our beautiful county in future, but it’s too early to take the risk right now.”
However across the seafront in the BCP area, some catering outlets will re-open offering a takeaway service.
Deckchair hire, land trains, cliff lifts, pier tolls, visitor centres and amusement arcades will not be operating though.
Golf courses, mini-golf, tennis courts, athletic tracks, skate parks, outdoor bowls facilities and ball courts will reopen across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, providing members of the public continue to maintain social distancing.
Many of BCP Council’s seafront toilets will be open with public conveniences at some local open spaces and parks available too. There will be enhanced cleaning and staff will be wearing PPE.
Members of the public are asked to self-enforce social distancing whilst queuing for and using facilities. There will be no lifeguards on any of the beaches for the time being and people are advised it is at their own risk if they choose to enter the sea during this time. Both piers will reopen.
Cllr Vikki Slade, Leader of BCP Council, said, “Those of us who don’t live close to the beach or a local park are by now getting a bit fed up of repeatedly walking round the block. We are pleased to open up local facilities so our residents can now enjoy our beautiful natural environment and return to the open spaces they love.
“The message to those outside of Dorset though is that we would like people to not come. We need our open spaces for local people to get out and exercise. Other than operating takeaway services, our hotels, pubs and restaurants are closed, and visits to second homes or self-catering accommodation are not permitted under the latest government guidance.
“Please remember that social distancing and limiting contact with those outside of your household remains essential in controlling covid19.”
In line with government guidance, playgrounds and outdoor gyms across the BCP will remain closed.
Those visiting parks, beaches and coastal facilities are asked to park considerately and respect all restrictions. Parking enforcement for contraventions will be taking place and PCNs issued for any vehicle flouting regulations.
BCP Council is optimistic that residents will observe social distancing and avoid gatherings. However, should this not be the case, temporary access restrictions will be considered for everyone’s safety.
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