With a sunny weekend ahead, Southend bosses urge outsiders to to stay away

Thousands flocked to Southend beach during hot weather earlier in the month Credit: ITV

Southend bosses are warning people to stay away from the town ahead of a sunny and hot weekend.

Last night, the Prime Minister eased coronavirus restrictions, allowing groups of six people to meet in public spaces from Monday.

While the news will be welcomed by those looking forward to reuniting with friends and family, council bosses are worried that beaches and parks may become overrun with people - especially during the warm weather this weekend and next week.

Labour councillor Ian Gilbert, from Southend on Sea Borough Councilsaid the timings of the government's announcements "hasn'tbeen helpful".

During the recent warm weather, the beach at Southend struggled to cope as thousands flocked to sunbathe and swim in the sea despite pubs, cafes and crucially, public toilets all remaining closed.

Asked if he thinks Mr Johnson should have waited until Sunday to announcechanges to the rules on Monday, Mr Gilbert said: "Yes. I think, from our pointof view, in terms of managing public spaces, absolutely."

"Unfortunately I think the whole way that the debate has gone over the pastweek, with the business about (Number 10 aide Dominic) Cummings and what have you, has all unfortunately contributed to a general sense that lockdown is over."

Cllr Gilbert, Southend Borough Council

Mr Gilbert said Southend attractions will remain closed over the weekend, and he urged people from outside the borough to "think twice" before visiting.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We've said that whereverpossible we would give a period of notice in advance of changes being made, ideally 48 hours or more, which is true in this respect."The current regulations are in force until Monday."

Downing Street said police do not have the powers to enter gardens to check on the six-person rule under coronavirus legislation.

The PM's official spokesman added: "I'm sure that members of the public willshow common sense and will want to abide by the rules, police will have thepower to enforce the regulations using the proportional and pragmatic approach they've taken so far."

He said further guidance will be published on Friday.

Temperatures in England are expected to hit highs of 26C over the weekend, and then climb further to 29C by Tuesday.