As temperatures across south Essex are set to touch 20°C this weekend you're being warned to STAY AWAY from the seaside.

As part of a Southend Council campaign the borough's tourism and visitor organisation has - temporarily - changed its name to Don’t Visit Southend.

The idea is to stop anyone thinking of a jaunt out to take in the spring heat and think again - and to stay at home to save lives. 

The council’s seafront car parks are also closed and as per government guidance and the majority of shops are also closed.

Southend Council is also looking into what further restrictions could be put in place to deter visitors even more.  

More detail on those plans are expected soon.

Residents will also be encouraged to share their #StayHome selfies too, instead of the all-important seafront selfies.

Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: ““This is a not a message that we are used to promoting but at this time it is absolutely necessary.

“Don’t visit Southend. Stay away, stay home and save lives.

“Footfall has obviously reduced across the borough since the Government announced its social distancing instructions, but we are seeing a slight rise nationally and locally in traffic.

"With the weather also heating up, we are concerned that people will want to visit the seaside for their daily exercise, groups will congregate, and all the good work that has been ongoing with people staying at home will be wasted.

“I am sorry to say this, but visitors are not welcome to Southend at this time.

"We will still be here when this is all over and we look forward to seeing you then. I would also urge residents to exercise locally and not visit the seafront unless they live in close proximity.”

Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for tourism says: “As a seaside town that values and relies on its tourism industry so much, it seems perverse to tell people not to visit Southend, but these are unprecedented time and therefore unprecedented measures and messages are needed.

"Our car parks and shops are closed. Don’t Visit Southend, please come and see us when we are all through this.”

James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, said: “In normal times you are very welcome to visit Southend, but not during this coronavirus pandemic. Anyone can catch coronavirus, and anyone can spread it.

“It is our duty to one another to follow government’s instruction and stay at home to save lives – don’t visit Southend.”