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Weekend weather could see surge in social gatherings before stricter Covid measures introduced, Kent Police warn

Temperatures are expected to climb across Kent this weekend - leading police to warn against large gatherings on the last weekend before stricter Covid-19 restrictions are imposed.

The mercury is set to start its ascent today, with temperatures likely to reach a pleasant 20C, but will increase to a balmy 25C tomorrow as warm air pushes in from the continent.

It comes a month after the August heatwave saw parts of the county hotter than Jamaica ; and it is set to get even warmer on Monday with temperatures anticipated to nudge 30C.

The Met Office's deputy chief meteorologist, Nick Silkstone, said: “It’ll turn warmer still as we start the new week, with temperatures possibly reaching around 29 or 30 Celsius in the south east early next week.”

However, Kent Police is urging people to follow existing rules this weekend - and says it will have an increased presence in key locations such as parks and beaches to prevent unlicensed music events and illegal gatherings which have plagued parts of the county.

The force is also encouraging people to brush up on what the new ' rule of 6 ' means before extra measures on social distancing are brought into effect on Monday.

Social gatherings of adults and children will be restricted to six, both indoors and out, as the Government acts to slow the gathering pace of infection.

Revellers took to Greatstone Beach as part of a pre-planned 'beach cookout' last month
Revellers took to Greatstone Beach as part of a pre-planned 'beach cookout' last month

Latest figures show positive tests across the county have risen to their highest level for two months , with 178 new cases recorded last week - almost treble the 66 seen in the week up to August 18.

Those failing to comply with the new guidance risk receiving a £100 fine which will double on each further repeat breach up to £3,200.

Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix said: "Kent has had a very good compliance rate when it comes to adhering to the national health advice around the coronavirus.

"However, the Government has made it clear that the risk of increasing infections is too great to ignore and stricter social gathering rules will come into effect to help keep everyone safe.

"Kent Police officers will continue to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the latest advice and enforcement will be used as a last resort."

Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix
Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix

As of 10 September, Kent Police had issued a total of 127 fixed penalty notices for social distancing breaches.

ACC Nix added: "Some people may look at this weekend as the last chance to get some wider socialising before stricter rules come into force.

"However, I would add that Kent Police will continue to enforce the current legislation around gatherings like it has done in recent months.

"Covid-19 remains a real and deadly threat and we all need to take responsibility for our actions in helping reduce the spread of the virus and ultimately save lives."

Last Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the introduction of 'Covid marshals' to ensure people are following coronavirus guidelines - but local authorities in Kent remain in the dark as to how this will be implemented locally.

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