POLICE officers patrolling the seafront are urging people to abide by guidelines amid the warm weather. 

The number of people ignoring social distancing guidelines has “crept back up” after a weekend warning saw the seafront empty overnight.

Flagrant rule flouters include people enjoying picnics, sunbathers, and even visitors from the capital coming to the seaside for fish and chips. 

While the majority of people in Brighton and Hove are adhering to the Government’s “stay home, save lives” mantra, some exceptions have been seen across the city.

PC Richard Hall said: “We had somebody that stopped us the other day in the police vehicle to ask us what restaurant was open. 

“They had travelled down from north London and they wanted a fish and chip shop, so they were told to return to north London and not come back to Brighton.”

Police officers are currently using an “engage and explain” approach, but this could lead to “enforcement” including fines if people fail to abide by the Government rules.

PC Ella Perfect said: “There’s a very long way you go from explaining to enforce and that’s our last resort. 

“We don’t want to do that ideally. 

“The vast majority of peopled listen and sometimes it’s a case of them not being completely informed of the Government rules of the lockdown – people having dance parties and meeting up with friends.

“We just have to make them aware and most people understand and appreciate that it is hard but, at the end of the day, it is to protect lives and protect the NHS.”

The Sussex Police officers wanted to thank those in the city who are abiding by the rules. 

PC Hall added: “There are still the odd few who are sunbathing or having picnics or some who have travelled down from various locations throughout the UK to use the beach.Please stay at home. We appreciate that it’s very sunny, the weather is grand at the moment, but we all need to do our part to protect the NHS and ultimately save lives.

“We wanted to say how supportive everyone has been, the majority of residents have been abiding by the Government guidelines and we appreciate everyone doing it.”

Brighton and Hove City Council leader Nancy Platts issued a warning to over-enthusiastic beach-goers on Saturday as the excessive number of people descending on the city’s seafront “made social distancing impossible”.

The firmly worded warning, shared by councillors in wards across the city, had an immediate impact with drone pictures showing an almost empty beachfront in Hove by Sunday.

But groups have since been seen having picnics and playing football on Hove Lawns, while others have been spotted sunbathing near Seven Dials in contravention of the social distancing rules. There are concerns that this behaviour will increase as a warm bank holiday weekend approaches.

Cllr Platts said: “Numbers have crept up a little – we need people to remain disciplined. They can only go out for one form of exercise each day, but need to keep moving.

“That means no sitting down, reading books or sunbathing, and staying two metres apart (from people not in their household) when outside. We have not yet stopped the spread in Brighton and Hove, it’s essential to protect one another and the NHS, and people can do this by staying at home.

“Thank you to everybody who is following the advice, your actions will save lives.”

Sussex Police continue to patrol along Brighton and Hove promenade, moving along people who are not following social distancing guidelines.

More officers are set to patrol the seafront tonight, with Sussex Police saying there will be more visible patrols across the bank holiday weekend. While most have been willing to listen to officers, some have taken exception to the force’s requests.

Some beach-goers have been pictured protesting to police in Brighton and Hastings as they were asked to move along, while a pair in Hove were charged after allegedly abusing officers who told them to extinguish their barbecue. This behaviour has led to dispersal orders being issued in Eastbourne, Hastings, Seaford and Crawley.

Sussex Police deputy chief constable Jo Shiner said: “As ever, our plea is for everyone to do the right thing this weekend, stay home, save lives and protect the NHS.

“Our officers and PCSOs [police community support officers] will continue to engage with people and explain what the Government guidance is and why it has been put in place. We want to encourage people to do the right thing in following that guidance and only where absolutely necessary will our officers take enforcement action.

“Our officers are working in a more visible and agile way, patrolling our communities as they would usually do but also being responsive to reports we receive from the public regarding any areas where people may be gathering.”