Southend Borough council is urging people not to visit the seaside in the coming weeks to help reduce crowds gathering and increasing the risk of spreading coronavirus.

It follows reports of many groups gathering in the central seafront area and old Leigh yesterday (Saturday) and also across seaside locations up and down the country.

The government announced new social distancing measures on Friday night, including the closure of bars, restaurants and cafes, but councils nationally are waiting for more details on the enforcement and licensing powers behind it.

Southend Police Town Centre Team have been talking to visitors and businesses, advising them about the measures.

The plea follows reports of some groups gathering along the seafront. Credit: ITV News Anglia

We must all unite against coronavirus and observe the government guidance. It is clear from reports we have received that in pockets this is simply not happening, and people and some businesses are just not taking this seriously enough which is so disappointing. It is for this reason that we are taking the unprecedented step of actively discouraging people from visiting the seaside and gathering in crowds.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Borough Council
Credit: ITV News Anglia

I was concerned to see the amount of visitors and groups gathering yesterday. We will still be here when this is over and I would urge visitors to stop congregating and for traders risking public health by encouraging this to close as per the government guidance.

Martin Richardson, from the Happidrome arcade on the seafront