Published: 11:33, 30 June 2020
| Updated: 12:09, 30 June 2020
A "moronic minority" of beachgoers risk a second lockdown being enforced on the Kent coast, according to a worried MP.
Sir Roger Gale, who represents North Thanet, fears a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic after tens of thousands of people flocked to the seafront last week.
And shocking footage showed a train from London to Margate, dubbed 'The Covid Express', rammed with passengers - many of whom were not wearing face coverings.
Sir Roger says that while businesses are being required to "jump through hoops" in order to reopen on Saturday, "it is, it seems, in order for the Great British Public to tip out of the cities, head for the coast and then congregate on beaches in a manner that is almost guaranteed to spread infection if there is any going".
The MP believes numbers at beaches may soon have to be limited - and traffic diverted away from hotspots once capacity has been reached.
As restrictions were imposed on the city of Leicester today, he said: "While I do not wish to be unduly pessimistic we are, I fear, in some danger of risking a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic and throwing away the gains that have been won at a colossal physical, emotional and economic cost."
Although the veteran Conservative is still in isolation and yet to visit the coast himself, his staff have reported back with "a tale of two nations".
"On the one hand there is a socially-responsible majority arriving patiently, parking lawfully, carefully keeping family distance, removing their picnic rubbish with them and returning home after an enjoyable day out," Sir Roger said.
"On the other are those who arrive raucously, park carelessly and illegally with no thought of the obstruction caused to others or to emergency vehicles, intrude upon other people’s space on the beach, drink alcohol to the point of insensibility and leave their mess and filth for others to pay to have cleared up after they have left."
He added: "We want and need to be able to enjoy a good summer holiday season and we want people to be able to come to Margate and to Herne Bay and to have a good time.
"If the moronic, selfish and irresponsible minority have their way, however, then we shall lose this summer season in its entirety.
"There is already a growing clamour to 'close the beaches' and if the antisocial behaviour is allowed to continue then that clamour will turn into a deafening roar."
Sir Roger fears some "fairly draconian measures" may have to be considered.
"We may, for example, have to limit the numbers allowed on the beach at any one time as we already do on health and safety grounds for many other indoor and outdoor venues," he said.
"It may be, also, that we have to divert traffic, once capacity has been reached, away from the coast completely."
The MP adds: "None of this ought to be necessary if common sense prevails but one thing is certain: Covid-19 has not yet been defeated. It is still with us and if we do not want to head into another lockdown in the autumn or before then we have to proceed with care for each other and for ourselves.
"The alternative does not bear too much thinking about."
More by this authorPhil Hayes
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