Kent residents are being reminded to avoid unnecessary travel to coastal areas and other popular open spaces this weekend as efforts continue to curb the spread of Covid-19.
With the weather set to be glorious, members of the Kent Resilience Forum including the five coastal authorities Canterbury City Council, Dover District Council, Folkestone and Hythe District Council, Swale Borough Council and Thanet District Council, along with Kent County Council, Kent Police and the train operator Southeastern, are reminding everyone to follow the Government’s advice by staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
A spokesman for the five district councils said: “It is ironic that just as we’re being asked to stay in for almost the whole day, the sun comes out. But as we battle this virus, common sense remains our biggest weapon and most people are using theirs.
“Please don’t travel to the coast or country parks to do your exercise and certainly don’t go to public places for picnics or social gatherings – stay close to home, only go out with members of your own household once a day for exercise and please avoid creating a crowd. We’re in this together and it is working. Don’t stop now #kenttogether.”
Government scientists say not getting too close to other people who do not live with you, otherwise known as social distancing, is important to defeating the disease but is incredibly difficult when lots of people are in the same place at the same time.
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark added: “You need to stay two metres (six feet) away from other people – that’s either two very big steps or hold your arm out and then double that distance.
“Exercise is an important way to help your physical and mental health. If you can’t keep fit and healthy at home then the Government advice is for one trip out of your house each day for a walk or run. Stay close to your home and you should not drive unnecessarily or take public transport unless it is absolutely essential. We have to continue with a sensible approach to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and avoid the strain on the NHS.”
Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Faulconbridge said: “As part of their routine patrolling across the county, Kent Police officers are engaging with individuals and businesses to ensure they are adhering to the Government’s instructions around social distancing.
“Officers are engaging with those going against the instructions, explaining why they are necessary and encouraging them to comply, with enforcement being used only as a last resort. It is therefore pleasing that police enforcement has not yet been necessary by the police in Kent since legislation under the Coronavirus Act was introduced last week.
“I would like to thank the people of Kent for continuing to play their part at this difficult time by staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.”
Aaron Willcox, Margate station manager said: “Southeastern’s reduced timetable is designed for vital key workers making essential journeys, with only half the usual number of trains. We know a trip to the beach might seem tempting as the weather gets warmer, but please follow the government advice and only travel if your journey is absolutely essential.”
The number of people using Kent country footpaths has increased since the outbreak, but KCC’s Public Rights of Way service says some landowners are concerned about an increased risk to livestock, such as instances of gates being left open and dogs not being controlled.
There are also concerns that the use of public rights of way through gardens, farmyards and schools is increasing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus to residents and farm workers, but this risk is considered to be very low, as long as people follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.
Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:
- tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate;
- temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools; and
- offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so.