CAR parks across Colchester and Tendring have reopened in line with plans to bring the country out of lockdown.

Car parks had been closed to discourage people from travelling to parks or seafronts for exercise.

But council-run car parks are again in operation to support new measures which allow people to drive for exercise, or to use public open space individually or in household groups.

Tendring Council said public toilets will not be opened immediately, but work is taking place to assess how the amenities can be safely maintained.

However, people are not permitted to stay at second homes or caravans in the district.

Elsewhere across the council staff will continue to work from home where possible, and offices remain closed to the public.

Engineering, gardening and other outdoor services will continue to operate following social distancing guidelines

Council leader Neil Stock said: “We need to keep in step with the national phased recovery plan, and our journey to return to business will not happen overnight.Where we can re-open things we will – but only when we are satisfied it is safe for both our staff and the public to do so.

“It’s absolutely vital that people stick to the guidance and follow the basics: social distancing of at least two metres from those outside of their own household, regular handwashing – for example after touching communal surfaces such as ticket machines – and using their common sense.

“Our car parks, and hopefully soon some of our public toilets, are open to support those exercising or enjoying public spaces.

“They are not there to encourage everyone back to shops or to hang out in groups.”

The move to open car parks comes despite fears that Tendring’s elderly could be put at greater risk.

Martin Goss, Colchester Council’s environment boss, said: “For everyone’s enjoyment and to help stop the spread of coronavirus, it’s incredibly important anyone visiting our parks continues to adhere to social distancing rules.

“We expect car parks to be very busy in the coming weeks and therefore to avoid congestion and queues and to help protect the environment, we would encourage those that are able to walk or cycle to these spaces to do so.”