THE BEACH was almost desolate this weekend after day-trippers were told they are no longer welcome in the city.

Eerie pictures of Brighton seafront are in sharp contrast to scenes from last weekend which saw many people flouting social distancing rules to enjoy the sunshine on the beach.

One resident, who was doing their daily exercise near the beach on Saturday, said: “What a difference a week makes as Brighton seafront and beach was almost totally deserted at lunchtime.”

City leader Nancy Platts made an unprecedented statement last week, announcing day-trippers were banned from the city which is normally reliant on its tourism industry.

This weekend police challenged travellers at the station and residents observed social distancing measures in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus and protect the NHS.

Brighton and Hove City Council leader Councillor Platts said: “I live near the seafront and went down over the weekend to find it virtually deserted.

“I want to say a huge thank you to visitors, local people and businesses for listening to the advice to stay indoors at the weekend and for sharing our message widely.

“Thanks also to the police for their support; to The Argus and all media who ran our story for helping us to get a clear message out ahead of the weekend.”

Police officers challenged people at Brighton Station, enforcing the Government’s new strict measures announced on Monday.

Their message was clear; day-trippers are no longer welcome in Brighton and people must observe the new rules.

The message was relayed by the tannoys at the station, which broadcast government announcements that only essential travel is allowed.

According to reports from the scene and Google GPS data, the station was almost empty, which will be a relief for authorities who had received information people were still planning to travel to the city.

The measures are to “keep citizens safe and NHS staff protected” in a city which normally welcomes about 9.5 million day-trippers a year.

Commander of Brighton and Hove, Nick May, said: “We are working with and supporting all partners during this time, including British Transport Police, who police the railway network and stations.

“We will engage, explain and encourage people to do the right thing in complying with the Government’s instructions. If necessary, we will take enforcement action.”

Visit Brighton helps promote the city’s tourism industry which supports more than 21,000 jobs in our area.

It is now changed its name to Do Not Visit Brighton in a bid to warn people not to come to the city amid the Covid-19 crisis.