POLICE officers in Salisbury are urging the public to stay away from Bournemouth beaches after a major incident was declared.

Thousands of visitors have flocked to the seaside between yesterday and today with pictures shared on social media showing people standing shoulder to shoulder, practising no social distancing.

This lunchtime, traffic was solid on both the southbound carriageways of New Bridge Road backing up beyond Wiltshire College along Churchill Way as daytrippers made their way to the coast.

Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council has now declared a major incident to tackle the issues of littering, illegal parking, gridlocked roads and anti-social behaviour that have arisen as a result of people choosing to defy official advice.

BCP Council Leader Vikki Slade said: “We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 hours.

"The irresponsible behaviour and actions of so many people is just shocking and our services are stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe. We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response.”

The announcement was shared on social media by Wiltshire Police.

In a tweet, a spokesperson from the force said: "Please see this update from @BCPCouncil - they are urging people to please stay away from the beaches on the South Coast."