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Warning after supposed 'mass gatherings' are organised in Folkestone and Margate

Police and a Kent MP are urging people to think of their 'personal responsibility' after a post being shared on social media invited crowds to attend a 'mass gathering' in Folkestone.

The poster for the supposed event in Radnor Park and on the beach this weekend reads: "Join the UK Freedom Movement and be a part of the largest mass gathering since lockdown."

Empty Folkestone beach during Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: Folkestone and Hythe Police Twitter account
Empty Folkestone beach during Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: Folkestone and Hythe Police Twitter account

The event appears to have been set up by a group opposing the lockdown measures introduced since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

These measures call on people to stay home as much as possible, only go to work if you can't work from home and stay 2 metres away from each other.

The post continues: "We say no to the Coronavirus Bill. No to the mandatory vaccines. No to the new normal and no to the unlawful lockdown."

It invites attendees to bring a picnic, some music and "have some fun and say yes to life".

A similar flyer has been posted online for an event in Margate on the same day, plus many other locations throughout the UK.

While some lockdown restrictions have been lifted today, allowing people to visit parks and open spaces for unlimited exercise, it would be very hard to stick to social distancing measures at a mass gathering.

MP Damian Collins
MP Damian Collins

Now, Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, has blasted organisers for potentially putting a risk to "public health".

He adds that events such as these could lead to lockdown measures being in place for longer.

Mr Collins said: "I've made Kent Police aware of these adverts.

"Mass gatherings are clearly in contravention of the government guidelines and it would be almost impossible to see how social distancing rules would be kept.

"Events like these will mean that the lockdown will last longer and the risk of rising infection levels will increase.

Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix
Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix

"I would urge people not to attend and I hope that the police will act if it is clear that the government guidelines are being flouted and that this action could endanger public health."

Leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council, Cllr David Monk said: “The idea of attending a mass gathering at the moment is highly irresponsible. These are undoubtedly tough times but we’ve all got to work together to help stop the spread of the virus.

"The more unnecessary social contact there is, the greater the number of COVID-19 related deaths there will be. I would not want that on my conscience.”

Similarly, police are calling for people to stay away from "inappropriate" gatherings.

Kent Police's Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix said: "Members of the public are encouraged to follow the latest government advice around social distancing outside of their homes and Kent Police officers will continue to engage with individuals found breaching those restrictions to explain why they are necessary and encourage them to take personal responsibility for adhering to them for their own safety and that of other people.

"Enforcement through penalty notices will be used as a last resort.

Cllr David Monk
Cllr David Monk

"Those organising inappropriate gatherings as well as those publicising such events are also urged to consider their individual responsibilities for following government advice and encouraging others to do so."

The leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council has also called for the event to be avoided, adding he wouldn't want any 'unnecessary contact" on his "conscience".

Cllr David Monk said: “The idea of attending a mass gathering at the moment is highly irresponsible.

"These are undoubtedly tough times but we’ve all got to work together to help stop the spread of the virus.

"The more unnecessary social contact there is, the greater the number of COVID-19 related deaths there will be. I would not want that on my conscience."

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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