Since the non-essential travel ban has been lifted in England, we are all free to travel to visitor destinations. But the need for physical distancing has not changed.
The government has prohibited by law all public gatherings of more than two people, except where they are members of the same household, or two people from different households who keep two metres apart at all times.
Only those who meet this criteria can visit public places for recreation.
This means all of us must continue our adapted behaviours until further notice if we’re to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and limit the potentially devastating effect of the disease.
Unfortunately our Licensing Team, Seafront Office and Sussex Police are receiving many reports of large gatherings, public nuisance, public urination and littering on our seafront and beach.
We have serious concerns that these issues are occurring during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
We’d love to see you but not just now
There is no doubt that part of the attraction for people to visit the seafront and beach is due to many premises now offering take away food, soft drinks and alcohol, especially those on the lower promenade at Kings Road Arches.
This is exacerbating the issues of crowding and groups gathering, in direct contravention of the legislation and government’s guidelines on physical distancing. This is also intensifying public nuisance, urination and littering issues.
With this in mind, we’re taking action to address the problems we’re seeing.
Restricting access to the beach
For the weekend starting Friday 22 May, the central beach area from East Street to West Street will be monitored to restrict the number of people accessing the area if necessary.
This measure is about public safety. There will be stewards stationed at entry and exit points from 12 noon to 9pm each day up to and including bank holiday Monday to encourage physical distancing and direct people to less busy parts of the seafront if the area becomes too busy.
We also need to remind people that there are fewer toilets for them to use as government guidelines only permit businesses to operate on a takeaway basis – and this does not include accessing seating or toilet facilities.
We are opening public toilets where possible but capacity is limited and these are likely to become over-used and over-run if people continue to flock to our beaches.
No lifeguard service
Our usual lifeguard service is not in operation this bank holiday weekend or in the coming weeks.
Lifeguards normally patrol the city’s beaches from the end of May until the end of the school holidays in September but the Covid-19 pandemic and physical distancing restrictions interrupted our usual recruitment drive.
However enticing our wonderful shoreline might be, we would strongly urge anyone who takes a swim to exercise extreme care. The current is strong and the water is not as warm as it looks.
Please keep yourself and your family safe
Please don’t take unnecessary risks that could put extra strain on emergency services at this difficult time.
We are hoping to have a limited lifeguard service in place soon and will announce any new arrangements as soon as we can.
Please check for our lifeguards page for updates and safety advice.
Please consider the impact of your journey
We are used to catering for up to 11 million visitors each year and are renowned for the warm welcome we usually give to all our valued visitors.
We are so proud of the city we share but to promote Brighton & Hove as a place to visit at this time would be utterly irresponsible and an insult to the NHS staff and frontline workers who have protected the whole county throughout this devastating crisis.
We urge anyone thinking of travelling to the city at this time to consider very carefully how their journey will impact on others and what sort of experience they will have when they arrive, without access to the usual high standards of hospitality.
Our priority is to keep residents and visitors to the city safe but don’t feel able to do this effectively at the moment.
To highlight this, we are writing to ministers to urge them to consider the effect their easing of lockdown restrictions is having on tourism hotspots like ours.
We miss our visitors and are desperately looking forward to the day we can get back to being the welcoming and vibrant destination we’re best known for but right now it is not business as usual in Brighton & Hove.
Councillor Carmen Appich
Chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee