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Coronavirus Kent: Warnings ramped up to stay away from county's hot spots

Birthday celebrations have been broken up by police as they battle to convince people to stay at home and save lives.

Kent Specials said Medway Specials had been called to reports of a gathering at an address.

When they got there, they found a number of people had come from other parts of the Towns to celebrate a birthday.

The officers warned the group to go home.

"Please stay at home" was the message being pushed out again today by emergency services, councils and others as temperatures climbed.

Yesterday, empty car parks and clear roads were the scenes around Kent as people followed government advice and stayed away from popular spots.

But with warmer weather predicted today, the fear was that people may change their minds and jump in the car to head somewhere scenic to walk, or to do a spot of sunbathing.

A few people on Tankerton Slopes, Whitstable, on Saturday afternoon, as social distancing allows. Picture: Chris Davey.
A few people on Tankerton Slopes, Whitstable, on Saturday afternoon, as social distancing allows. Picture: Chris Davey.

But health secretary Matt Hancock made it clear that decision could cost lives.

He told Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “Sunbathing is against the rules that have been set out for important public health reasons.”

https://twitter.com/kentpolice7oaks/status/1246780790949773312

In Crockham Hill near Edenbridge, police were called to a closed tennis court, where people had reportedly been having a match.

Patrols went along but noone was there when they arrived.

Officers in Tunbridge Wells said they had been forced to issue one individual with a penalty notice this afternoon after several warnings.

And in Swanley, seven groups of people had to be sent home from Swanley Park, according the Kent Police.

It forced officers to tweet a list of non-essential reasons they had come across for being outdoors, including "family picnics, romantic dates, a sandwich and a can of beer halfway through a bike ride and feeding the ducks."

People in Dover appeared to have heeded the advice, as Dover District Council shared a snap of an empty seafront.

They posted: "Thank you for staying home. All quiet on Dover seafront with a watchful presence from Kent Police and Port of Dover Police #StayHomeSaveLives #WeCanDoThis"

Police were out again visiting popular tourists spots to ensure people who were there were observing the rules.

Many listened to the advice

Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield backed the advice, tweeting: "Exercise is important, obviously, but whilst observing #SocialDistancing rules – keep 6ft or 2m between yourself and others.

"Moving in your own space is fine. Gathering with friends/sunbathing/sitting or standing around talking is not..."

And she reminded people that the landscape would still be there for people to enjoy once the crisis is over.

It was the same story on Broadstairs beach, where police took photos showing them to be almost empty, alongside a post saying "Thank you for staying safe."

It was also quiet on the promenade at Gravesend. The park, which is next to the River Thames, is always a popular draw but today was quiet according to a tweet from police.

Police posted a photograph of a near-empty Broadstairs beach
Police posted a photograph of a near-empty Broadstairs beach

All local PCSOS will be spending the day down there.

However, they did make two arrests for being drunk and disorderly, they reported just after 1.30pm.

They also warned earlier: "Driving from London to Shorne to walk your dog is not an essential journey. Please adhere to the government advice during this challenging time."

Over in Maidstone, Mote Park was relatively quiet, with just a few small groups congregating in the green space.

The play areas were empty, and the town centre void of people.

Mote Park in Maidstone was virtually deserted
Mote Park in Maidstone was virtually deserted

People are allowed to leave their homes once a day to exercise. If you go out to exercise, the advice is to stay local if you can and keep two metres away from other people.

If you are walking a dog, keep it under control and on a lead in busy parks.

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