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Southend beach packed with thousands of sunseekers from as far away as Leicestershire struggling to social distance

Social distancing proved a challenge for thousands of sunseekers who packed a seaside resort in Essex during the heatwave.

Southend-on-Sea's beach was a magnet for visitors from as far away as Leicestershire and Hertfordshire.

The Essex town was braced for an invasion of tourists despite adopting the slogan 'Don't Visit Southend'.

Families tried their best to stay two metres apart on the shingle beach as temperatures hit 25C.

The council introduced a series of 'mitigation' measures including one way queuing for toilets and wider pavements taking up parking spaces.

I came from Leicester and I came here because there is the sea and I like to take the energy from it.

I put up my perimeter. It's very important to keep social distancing.

– Storm Ellis, from Leicestershire

Lockdown has dealt a heavy blow to many of Southend's traditional seaside businesses.

Sunseekers packed out the beach on the Southend. Credit: ITV News

It’s a massive challenge. We know that people aren’t going overseas at the moment and with weather like this we know people are going to visit.

We’ve got a campaign called stay safe, stay apart, that’s working. If it becomes dangerous we will have to close the sea front but that would be a last resort.

We are in uncharted waters.

– CLLR MARTIN TERRY, Southend Council

The main amusement park, Adventure Island, remained closed. The owner would normally employ 1,000 people at the height of the season but currently has just 30 working in food kiosks.