THE closure of Southend seafront is “under serious consideration” to help tackle the spread of coronavirus

On Friday, Southend Council suspended car parking spaces and closed car parks in tourism hotspots over fears of large groups gathering to take advantage of warmer weather.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

On duty - officers in Southend High Street over the weekend

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Patrols - Southend proved to be quiet over the weekend

A campaign, backed by the Echo, was also launched deterring people from the seafront over the weekend.

This move seems to have paid off with repeated pictures from police illustrating empty streets.

However, with the Easter weekend on the horizon, hammering home the message to “stay away” will be essential.

Writing on Facebook, Labour council leader, Ian Gilbert said of a total closure of the seafront: “It’s an idea under serious consideration but there are some issues, and it’s a tricky judgement call.”

He said difficulties with any closure include:

  • Closing one of the main east-west routes in the town could cause problems for emergency services and other essential activities, even on a day when road traffic should be light.
  • The council would have to make arrangements for residents who access or enter their properties from the seafront (including those on Hartington, Pleasant Road etc) and this will need managing.
  • It would require a lot of time to set up, when council resources are already stretched.
  • It’s not a complete solution because people can still park in nearby residential streets.

Writing on Facebook, he said the council decided not to make any road closures this weekend.

He added: “However, it is likely that we will be putting some further restrictions and closures in for Easter weekend, depending on how things progress.”

Meanwhile, the Health Secretary says outdoor exercise could be banned if people flout social distancing rules.

It came following reports of people gathering in some London parks.

Matt Hancock said sunbathing in public spaces was against the Government Covid-19 lockdown guidance and those who dared to disobey the instructions are putting their own and others’ lives at risk.

He said: “At the moment the vast majority of people are (following guidance) but people should not break the rules because that will mean the virus spreads more and then we might have to take further action.”

He also confirmed that Boris Johnson continues to have a high temperature but is “OK” and in “good spirits” as he remains in self-isolation in Downing Street.