Devon and Cornwall gridlock caused by cars 'from all over country'

Devon and Cornwall gridlock caused by cars 'from all over country'

  • 20 May 2020
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  • Coronavirus pandemic
Image caption The beach car park at Saunton Sands was described as looking "like August"

Beaches in Devon and Cornwall are seeing high numbers of visitors.

Cars from "all over the country" were reported in traffic gridlock in north Devon on Wednesday, police said.

In Devon, Saunton Sands beach car park, near Braunton, was described as "looking like August", with nearby Woolacombe described "a particular pinch point" for traffic.

In Cornwall, cars have been lining roads near Gwithian, and Perranporth beach has had hundreds of people on it.

In Devon, officers tweeted traffic heading to beaches was "exceptionally busy" and beach car parks were shut to new cars.

Staff at the Saunton Sands asked motorists to drive on, while they tried to maintain control over access to the car park.

Police also warned motorists against abandoning cars elsewhere, saying they should follow police advice to avoid becoming trapped in smaller lanes.

Public toilets and other amenities in the area remained closed, drivers were warned.

One officer said the area's elderly population would be "very anxious over the selfish actions of these individuals".

Another officer said vehicles were parked on double yellow lines between Woolacombe and Mortehoe and cars mounted pavements "to get by whilst pedestrians try to cross the road".

Image caption An estimated 300 people were on Perranporth beach, with visitors reportedly from 80 miles away

They said all offences were being recorded and would "be processed in due course".

In Cornwall, an estimated 300 people were on Perranporth beach, with the main car park beside it full, and other vehicles parked along the town's main road.

Some visitors told the BBC they were from Liverton in Devon, about 80 miles (130km) away.

Tourism bosses in Cornwall and Devon were united in saying visitors should "stay away" as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were eased in England.

Under the new guidelines, households are able to drive to other destinations in England, such as parks and beaches.

However, tourism body Visit Devon said people should restrict journeys "to no more than one hour and only visit our region for short day trips" as the county's rural communities "lacked the infrastructure and NHS facilities to be able to cope with an influx" of coronavirus cases.

Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner Alison Hernandez said such travel was not illegal but people were being encouraged to "come back later, just not yet".

Image caption Staff at the Saunton Sands car park have been asking motorists to keep driving on
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