Beaches packed ‘like a bank holiday weekend’ despite Covid-19 threat

Beaches and forests have attracted as many visitors as a bank holiday weekend despite the Covid-19 threat, a Belfast-based outdoors organisation warned.

People should exercise common sense when deciding where and when to venture out, Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland said.

It urged people to enjoy nature responsibly after packed scenes at local beauty spots emerged this weekend.

Executive director Dr Caro-Lynne Ferris said: “I’ve read reports and viewed photographs of outdoor spaces such as beaches and popular forests attracting as many visitors this weekend as a busy bank holiday weekend.

“This cannot go on. People need to exercise common sense when selecting where and when to go outdoors.”

She said it was pleasing to see many local councils closing play parks.

She added: “Hubs such as these simply don’t allow for adequate social distancing.

“I also commend the National Trust for closing their properties.”

The organisation urged members of the public to stay local if getting active outside during the outbreak.

It joined a group of 35 outdoor activity, tourism, nature, health and rescue organisations backing the Prime Minister’s call for the public to behave responsibly while exercising outside.

In a joint statement, the group offered support to the Government and advised on how to stay active safely during the outbreak.

During the daily Covid-19 news conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the public they needed to follow social distancing guidelines or the Government will be forced to restrict access to more open spaces.