Easter getaway warning: Six million drivers expected to hit the roads

Easter getaway warning: Police urge locals to report rule breakers as they plan to step up patrols and turn away visitors while tourism chiefs say wait until April 12 with six million drivers set to hit the road over four-day weekend

  • Forces across the country including Merseyside, Humberside, Dorset and Sussex have issued stern warnings 
  • Residents living around tourism hotspots are even being encouraged to report visiting second-home owners 
  • Tourist bosses also cautioned against triggering a ‘false start’ and urged people to wait until hospitality opens

Police are ramping up patrols for the Easter bank holiday when millions are expected to use the first weekend of eased restrictions to meet with family and friends. 

Forces across the country including Merseyside, Humberside, Dorset, Sussex and Cheshire today issued stern warnings that officers will be out enforcing lockdown measures, such as the rule of six. 

Residents living around tourism hotspots are even being encouraged to report visiting second-home owners to the police, with Bournemouth’s police chief warning: ‘People are very quick to pick the phone up and tell us.’

Tourism bosses also cautioned crowds against triggering a ‘false start’ and urged people to hold fire on until the next big relaxation on April 12 when bars and restaurants open.

An RAC survey projects 5.6million cars will hit the road this weekend to visit loved ones, taking advantage of the four-day holiday and end of three-month ‘stay at home’ orders, which were replaced with ‘stay local’ on Monday.

Sun-seekers have since been seizing upon the recent heatwave and cramming at parks and beaches, which have been left strewn with rubbish to the disgust of locals. 

Although the Met Office forecasts a looming dip in temperatures, officers are still braced for a spike in footfall at beauty spots.

Dorset Police chief constable James Vaughn said: ‘We don’t want to be picking up 100 tonnes of rubbish, we don’t want Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service putting out forest fires, we don’t want to be towing away vehicles.’

Sun-seekers have been seizing upon the recent heatwave and cramming at parks and beaches since ‘stay at home’ orders were dropped on Monday 

A survey by the RAC projects 5.6million cars will hit the road this weekend to visit loved ones, taking advantage of the four-day holiday and end of the ‘stay at home’ orders, which were replaced with ‘stay local’ on Monday. A14 traffic today, pictured

Tourism bosses have begged would-be visitors to wait until hospitality opens outdoors on April 12 – and warned jumping the gun could endanger the process. Authorities in Cornwall (pictured) – a honeypot for tourists – are warning against a ‘false start

Hundreds of revelers attended a massive illegal rave last night in the Castlefield Bowl, Manchester City Centre

Increased Easter patrols follow week of lockdown rule-breaking 

Since lockdown was first eased on Monday police have been forced to disperse crowds straying beyond the newfound freedoms.

Cities across the country saw illegal gatherings broken up by officers: 

MANCHESTER: Police cleared drinkers from Castlefield Bowl after revellers gathered for a live DJ set;

NOTTINGHAM: Officers seized bottles of alcohol from sunseekers and poured it onto the grass;

LEICESTER: Police begged parents to control their children, admitting they ‘could not sort this alone’;

HARBOROUGH: Councillor accused revellers they risk exploding ‘deadly Covid-19 timebomb’ after parties;

LEEDS: Police threatened to disperse further big crowds after fights broke out at Hyde Park in Leeds. 

The research from the RAC suggesting 5.6million drivers will be heading to visit family and friends over the four-day break will likely set alarm bells ringing in police HQs. 

While it is the lowest figure for the past eight Easters – excluding 2020 when there was no survey – it is still a large number given the stay local guidance.

And of the 1,200 drivers surveyed, 25 per cent said they were not planning a trip specifically because of the pandemic.   

Good Friday looks to be the most popular day with the equivalent of two million separate journeys taking place, followed by Saturday and Easter Sunday when 1.3million cars will travel each day.

RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘What is traditionally one of the busiest weekends for leisure trips in normal times could turn out to be anything but in 2021, with the pandemic continuing to have a big impact on drivers’ plans to see friends and family this Easter.  

It is feared many of the cars could be second home-owners fleeing the city for their countryside retreats.

The Government’s roadmap is foggy on when second home-owners are allowed to to visit their properties, with some believing it was Monday, but police warning them to stay away until April 12.

Dorset’s Chief Constable Vaughan warned travellers likely risk being dobbed in by locals. ‘We are still getting around 400 reports a week from the public, so we will respond to reports,’ he told the Telegraph.

‘We won’t need to be doing hotspot patrols [around holiday parks] because people are very quick to pick the phone up and tell us.

‘So if people try and come down and stay in their second homes before April 12, then we are going to hear about it.’ 

Last Monday marked the first big easing of restrictions since England was plunged into its third national lockdown in early January. 

People are now allowed to gather in groups of six outside, including in private gardens, while organised outdoor sport has resumed.

The twin pressures of lockdown and the vaccine rollout is driving down rates of infections, hospitalisations and deaths – and this week Boris Johnson was confident he could stick to his roadmap to ease curbs.

Fighting in Hyde Park, Leeds, as passions boiled over yesterday after a day of drinking following the easing of lockdown rules 

Hundreds of revelers attended a massive illegal rave last night in the Castlefield Bowl, Manchester City Centre

People walking through Hyde Park in London as the UK’s mini-heatwave comes to an end today 

The rave at Castlefield Bowl in Manchester before it was cleared by police last night. Hundreds of people had gathered at the city centre location 

Tourism bosses have begged would-be visitors to wait until hospitality opens outdoors on April 12 – and warned jumping the gun could endanger the process. Authorities in Cornwall – a honeypot for tourists – are warning against a ‘false start’. 

Malcolm Bell, chair of Visit Cornwall, said: ‘The hospitality sector in Cornwall is working hard to get ready for visitors when the time is right – and no one wants to experience another lockdown. 

‘We want visitors to hear this message, plan ahead, book now and visit later when the rules allow and we look forward to welcoming you back to our beautiful part of the world.’ 

But after a week of fraying lockdown compliance within pockets of a restless public that had to be disperses, officers are steeling themselves for more disruption. 

Admitting that lockdown is ‘complicated to interpret’ Humberside Police’s assistant chief constable Darren Down even asked East Yorkshire residents to continue to ‘stay at home’. 

‘Over the course of the bank holiday, increased foot patrols and resources will be out and about to help keep everyone safe,’ he added. ‘Enforcement will be a last resort, but if required we will enforce the guidance and issue tickets.’

North Yorkshire Police stressed they were prepared to make good on their threat of fines by revealing they handed down 170 fixed penalty notices last week.

Following months of Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns the warm weather has seen thousands of people enjoying the outdoors

Police community support officers patrolled Hyde Park in Leeds yesterday, where thousands of drinkers had gathered 

Metropolitan Police officers on horseback today as people descend onto Hyde Park in London amid glorious sunshine 

Police in Merseyside, who had to break up a beach gathering of drunken teenagers on Tuesday, are also stepping up patrols of go-to areas this weekend.

Chief inspector Peter Clark said: ‘Those who do not social distance, who gather in larger groups and engage in anti-social behaviour not only risk spoiling the experience for everyone else, but risk setting us back as we look to move out of the challenging period we have all faced in the past 12 months.

‘Officers will continue to patrol on foot and in vehicles across Merseyside to ensure people are aware of the rules and meeting up as safely as possible.’ 

Cheshire’s assistant chief constable Jenny Sims said: ‘We expect to see a lot of people flocking to the county’s beauty spots over the bank holiday.

‘Although we welcome visitors, we would urge that you please think whether your journey is necessary and whether you can do this closer to home.’ 

Sussex Police’s superintendent Julia Pope said: ‘What we don’t want to see is people taking advantage of the new freedoms that have been granted by gathering in large numbers. We are not out of the woods yet.’ 

Easter Monday will also bring mark an end to the UK’s searing 75F mini-heatwave that has pulled people out of their homes.

Forecasters believe the cold snap could even see snowfall in parts of eastern England at the start of next week.

Scorching weather this week say central spots in Manchester, London, Nottingham and Leeds crammed with people.

Officers were seen clearing drinkers from Castlefield Bowl in Manchester city centre after hundreds gathered for a rave with a live DJ set, while police took similar action in London’s Hyde Park.

In Leeds, fights broke out in Hyde Park while police in Nottingham seized bottles of alcohol from sunseekers and poured it on the grass after ‘appalling scenes’ in the city’s arboretum earlier in the week.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick urged people to make the most the latest easing of lockdown restrictions in England in a ‘sensible, cautious’ manner, enjoying the sunshine but also being careful and sticking to the rules.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘We’ve all waited a long time to meet family and friends outdoors with these very limited freedoms we have now. We just need to exercise caution and be sensible and pragmatic.

‘I think the vast majority of people will do that. They will enjoy the sunshine this week and over the Easter weekend, but they will do that in a sensible and cautious way.’

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