Warnings after Norfolk Broads ‘overwhelmed’ by riverside revelry

The numbers of people flocking to Norfolk's waterways has triggered a warning from the Broads Author

The numbers of people flocking to Norfolk's waterways has triggered a warning from the Broads Authority about observing social distancing and worrying local people. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

An authority has rounded on fun-seekers who flocked to scenic riverbanks in clear breach of 2m distancing rules.

The sunny weekend saw numerous groups pre-empt Monday’s new phase of lockdown gathering for barbecues and picnics at busy “land destinations” like Coltishall Common and How Hill.

In a Facebook post the Broads Authority said locations were “overwhelmed” with visitors and urged the public to report any lockdown breaches on water or land to the police.

The post said: “The majority of boaters and paddlers who were out enjoying the sunny rivers were following social distancing guidelines and acting responsibly.

“Unfortunately, a number of land destinations such as How Hill, Coltishall Common, and Bridge Green in Potter Heigham were extremely busy with day visitors and groups of people, some of whom were barbecuing, picnicking, sunbathing and jumping into the river while ignoring the Government instructions to stay a suitable distance away from others who are not from the same household.

“Remember that restrictions are still in force and local people who live here may be seriously concerned about the impacts of the Coronavirus lockdown being eased.

“We urge visitors to refrain from driving to an area, parking irresponsibly, noticing that it is extremely busy and deciding to stay there and join in regardless.

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“This is not a good idea and it inadvertently leads to large groups forming and locations being overwhelmed with visitors.

“Please also do not leave disposable barbecues and other litter, especially in areas where they are not permitted, and take everything you bring out back home with you.

MORE: What are you allowed to do under the updated lockdown laws - and what can the police do?“If the public are concerned about anti-social behaviour on the water or on land in the Broads area, please remember to contact the Broads Authority, BroadsBeat or Norfolk Police.

“Covid-19 breaches should be reported to the local police force as soon as possible.”

At Coltishall large groups crowded onto the grassy common where an ice-cream van and the Rising Sun pub were doing a brisk trade.

A boat-owner said she was shocked at the numbers of people milling about amid an atmosphere of celebration.

“People are clearly ready to get out and about and keen to meet up with others.

“What the risks are I really don’t know, but it didn’t look right since we are still supposed to be paying some heed to this pandemic,” she said.

Horstead, a popular wild swimming spot, was also busy with groups of teenagers and families.

Police were seen talking to people in the area.

From Monday groups of up to six people have been allowed to meet in public spaces or private gardens and even have barbecues, but social distancing must still be observed.