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Stay away from second homes

I am fortunate enough to be responsible for policing in one of the UK’s most beautiful counties.

From the iconic Jurassic coast to the quaint streets of Sherborne and Shaftesbury, there are many good reasons why tourists come flocking to Dorset on a regular basis – and indeed their contribution is essential to our local economy.

But now, I’m giving a message nobody in public life here would ever normally give – stay away.

The Government advice about travelling to visit second homes or other holiday premises during the coronavirus pandemic is very clear. Don’t do it!

I know there are those who think travelling to rural locations will offer them some sort of protection, and there have been cases both across the region and across the country of police stopping people on their way to places they would normally go on holiday.

But essential travel doesn’t include going to second homes, Airbnb rentals, or anything else. Doing so will do nothing but risk spreading the virus further and place extra pressure on local NHS services that are already under threat.

Instead, you need to remain in your main home and follow the basic guidance, only going outside to buy food, for health reasons or work – if you absolutely can’t work from home – or for one form of exercise a day.

I know the pressures created by lockdown, as well as the general sense of anxiety about the spread of the virus, are causing problems for everyone, and exercise is still vital for people’s mental and physical wellbeing.

Again, the guidance around this is very clear. While we do live in a beautiful county, the one form of daily exercise doesn’t include getting in your car to drive miles to the beach.

Stay local and use the open space near your own home wherever possible, keep at least two metres apart from anyone you don’t live with, and remember – gatherings of more than two people in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this.

If you’ve got a garden, make use of this space whenever you can for exercise and fresh air.

Finally, take hygiene precautions whenever you’re outside and wash your hands as soon as you return.

These measures are difficult, but they are the only way we will be able to defeat the virus, protect our NHS and ultimately save lives.

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