Holiday makers and sunseekers are being told the West Country is 'not open for tourism' as weather forecasts show sunshine is on the way.

There are fears many will flock to popular destinations across the region, despite strict lockdown measures to protect against coronavirus.

Many local councils are warning anyone that provides accommodation to tourists they risk prosecution if they encourage people to visit.

Paignton seafront has been shut off to traffic to prevent people breaching Covid-19 guidelines and driving to the beach.

Meanwhile Visit Weston has changed its name on social media platforms to Don't Visit Weston to discourage people from coming.

Forecasts suggest the West Country could be in for a heatwave this weekend, with highs of 20 degrees.

It's feared the warm weather could drive more people outside, alongside the start of the Easter break, which has caused a number of tourist boards and police forces across the region to issue warnings.

Visit Cornwall has updated its website to urge people to stay away and help frontline services. Credit: VisitCornwall

North Devon District Council says guidance from the Government clearly calls for all holiday accommodation to close.

Leader of the Council, Cllr David Worden, said supermarkets in the area were already under strain, and they did not want to put any extra pressure on the local NHS.

The message is clear. North Devon is not open for tourism business. Not only is it incredibly irresponsible for people to make non-essential travel, we simply do not have the infrastructure to cope with an increased population. Any holiday accommodation owners that we know of who are encouraging people to come down here on holiday will be forced to shut down. If they refuse, we can prosecute. This may seem harsh but this is about keeping people safe and saving lives. >

Cllr David Worden, Leader of North Devon District Council

Many tourism sites including those promoting Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset have changed their websites and social media pages to urge people to stay away.

Visit Dorset has now become 'Virtual Dorset' - asking people to enjoy the county from their own living rooms. Credit: Visit Dorset

Gloucestershire Police has also warned potential travellers to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel.

Gloucestershire Police has reminded the public that going on holiday is not one of the reasonable excuses for leaving home.

Gloucestershire Police

It added its officers would be "stopping motorists who appear to be heading on holiday, such as those towing caravans, and would continue to engage, explain and encourage them to return to their primary home."