Published: 13:03, 13 January 2021
| Updated: 15:06, 13 January 2021
Signs reading 'go home' have been spray painted around a popular seaside town - prompting some to criticise the "horrible" wording.
The graffiti has popped up around Tankerton, near Whitstable, after reports visitors were flocking to the area prior to the lockdown in defiance of the government's Covid guidelines.
But Georgina Angell, 54, fears the writing could exclude people who are entitled to exercise there.
"Although we residents want to stay safe, I'm really upset that someone has sprayed these signs," she said.
"I know people shouldn't travel, but what about the people that do live locally that want to come and enjoy a walk?
"If I read that sign I would never want to step foot in the area again."
Lockdown rules state people are allowed to leave home once a day for exercise, but there is no clear guidance as to how far one may venture, with the guidelines only specifying that people should not travel outside their "local area".
Ms Angell, who regularly runs to Tankerton seafront, says she has spotted about 10 of the signs in recent weeks.
"It's really horrible," she said. "Even I'm offended, and I live 1.5km away.
"I'm entitled to be there, but I don't feel I am when I see these signs saying 'go home'. It's like saying 'go home, don't come near the seafront'. But who lives on the seafront?
"It's not fair. Of course people aren't allowed to come from miles away. But not everyone has gardens.
"What about residents that live in flats, and have children? They're entitled to share the seafront. It's a beautiful place, and it's big enough to share.
"It's just awful that these signs have appeared. Somebody is going around doing this, and it needs to be stopped."
Ms Angell fears the signs could have a negative impact on the town's image long-term.
"In a few months' time when all this is over, we're going to be begging people to come up here and support local businesses," she said.
"As much as we want to stay safe, I want to share my area. I want people to love Whitstable and enjoy it for the beautiful, friendly, traditional town that it is.
"The person that has done this needs to be ashamed of themselves."
The town was previously ranked as number one for those relocating.
Canterbury City Council has confirmed it is not responsible for having sprayed the signs.
Spokesman Rob Davies said that while the spray painting is classed as graffiti, the authority's ability to clean it away and investigate it is currently limited due to "very stretched staffing resources".
He added: "We're sorry to hear this was upsetting and hope that the town's residents will not be put off from getting the exercise and fresh air that is so important for physical and mental health."
City councillor Neil Baker, who represents Tankerton ward, said he "sympathises" with Ms Angell's concerns.
"We all know if someone is going to drive miles to break guidelines, they aren't going to be put off by some words on the ground," he said.
"But those who may be getting out of the house for a short walk, well within guidelines, may be upset, turn around and go home.
"Nobody wants to see huge crowds, cramped side-by-side but neither should people feel they can't have a sensible, distanced stroll near where they live along the seafront."