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People urged to stay away from region's beaches over sunny bank holiday weekend amid social distancing fears

People enjoying the hot weather this week Photo: PA

People are being urged to stay away from beaches over the bank holiday weekend when England is expected to bask in dry, sunny weather.

Pictures of crowds flocking to beaches in recent days have raised fears over social distancing, and councils with responsibility for beauty spots around England are warning people to stay away.

Following the easing of some lockdown measures last week, there are no restrictions on how far people can go to get to the countryside, National Parks and beaches in England.

The Met Office is forecasting that temperatures could reach highs of 26C in London on Monday, with coastal areas likely to see highs of around 20C.

Saturday is expected to be the coldest day, before the mercury climbs on Sunday and Monday, with wall-to-wall sunshine in the west and sunny spells in the east.

After seeing the number of people who headed to its coastline this week, Sefton Council in Merseyside has adopted a new campaign ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

"Wish you weren't here!" is the council's take on the picture postcard message it is sending to people thinking of travelling to its beaches from across the North West.

People are also being advised not to visit Blackpool to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

And the leaders of three local authorities bordering Morecambe Bay have also asked people to think twice before visiting the area.

The National Trust is urging people across England to stay close to home and explore local green spaces and countryside this weekend, as part of the collective effort to make easing of the lockdown work.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "It is inevitable that obviously the public will be out and about a lot more, but of course our message is clear to the public - yes, enjoy being outdoors, we have encouraged people to go out, but we have put a very clear caveat around that.

"This is all conditional. You can enjoy being outdoors in the sun providing you are following the advice and we continue to stop and contain the spread of the infection."

Meanwhile, Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said the different approaches taken by England and Wales would "increase the likelihood" of people breaking lockdown rules over the bank holiday weekend.

Asked if he thought people were likely to break the rules, Mr Hart told the PA news agency: "Anything which suggests that there's a different set of rules one side of the border to the other will increase the likelihood that that is possible, and there have been some examples of people being pulled in when coming into Wales who didn't realise it was a different regime."

But the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire said he believed the "vast majority" of people were complying with the lockdown rules in place in Wales.