BEACHGOERS have been praised for heeding warnings and maintaining social distancing on the north Essex coast over the weekend.

It had been feared that people would descend on Clacton, Frinton, Brightlingsea, Dovercourt and Walton after the Government eased lockdown restrictions, allowing people to travel by car to exercise and to meet a relative outside, while maintaining social distancing.

Clacton MP Giles Watling has appealed for people to still “stay away” from the coast over fears of spreading Covid-19 to the district’s high proportion of elderly people, who are more susceptible to the virus.

Former Gazette reporter Nigel Brown, who lives close to Clacton seafront, said: “I went for an hour’s walk each day from the pier to Holland Haven and back.

“It was pretty much the same as it has been over lockdown on Saturday and that was probably down to the weather which was not as sunny as predicted.

“There were the normal people about walking dogs and taking their exercise.

“Sunday was a lot warmer and sunnier and there were definitely more people about – especially people sitting on the beach and some having picnics.

“They were well spread out on the beaches from the pier to Holland-on-Sea and they mostly seemed to be keeping the required distance.

“There were one or two groups which looked as though they were larger than one household.

“It certainly wasn’t packed and we did not get the large numbers of people which were predicted.

“It was good to see more people about again enjoying the lovely weather.”

Tendring Council had reopened car parks but stopped short at reopening public loos.

Council leader Neil Stock said: “I was down at the beach on Saturday and it was empty, defying the expectations. I have been massively impressed with people obeying the guidelines and social distancing.

“The Government guidance is clear and unlike other areas, I’m not going to try - nor to I have teh power - to stop people from coming.” For some people who have been stuck at home to feel the sand between their toes and look out to sea, it must be amazing.

“I recognise for some people, going down to the beach is a lifeline.

Temperatures are due to top 22C this week and Mr Stock added: “We’re expecting some good weather, so if people are going to come they must maintain social distancing.

“Public toilets are closed and shops and bars are closed, so you can’t buy candy floss.

“You’ll need to bring your own things with you - and take your own rubbish home.”