DORSET’S police officers are stopping people and vehicles and enforcing the Government’s lockdown measures.

After an emergency bill was passed through Parliament giving police new powers which allow them to enforce restrictions on public movement in a bid to reduce the spread of Covid-19, officers were patrolling the county’s roads and beauty spots yesterday.

Within 30 minutes, they stopped more than 20 cars in which the drivers were travelling for exercise or to walk their dogs.

Cars were stopped all over the county, and people were warned to follow the rules.

Areas included Ringstead, where people were moved on, and Compton Abbas, where officers met a dog owner who wanted to walk their pet.

Non-essential travel goes against Government instructions and is breaking the law.

While officers were patrolling the Nothe area of Weymouth, they came across two people sunbathing. Words of advice were given and they were told to move on.

A spokesman for Weymouth and Portland Police said:”We appreciate with the lovely weather and views people will want to sit and enjoy the weather however this is not a form of exercise or essential travel.”

Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan has sent a clear message - stay at home - and says his officers will take action against those who continue to break the rules.

“I am reassured and satisfied that we have adequate powers to deal with the threat of this emergency situation and can enforce the new rules,” he said.

“We have shifted resources and created capacity across our force to ensure we have enough officers to enforce these new powers. Our officers and staff are proactively patrolling our communities, stopping people and vehicles to ensure people are not flouting these restrictions. So far I am reassured with the response from our public in Dorset, who in the main are taking sensible steps and are adhering to the advice.

“For some areas of the country, this weekend marks the start of the Easter holidays. Please stay at home.

Driving to exercise, visit public locations or beauty spots is not within the spirit of the Government direction and it places additional demand on other sectors.

“I have confidence that people understand the importance of these restrictions.

We have responsible and practical communities who I am sure will comply for the good of all.

“I have been appealing all week for the public to co-operate and need to emphasise that individuals who deliberately flout this will face the full force of the law. We are determined to keep people safe.”

Under the rules, you should not leave your home unless strictly necessary for one of the following purposes:

Shopping for basic household necessities, as infrequently as possible

One form of exercise a day - for example, a run, walk or cycle - alone or with members of your household

Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person

Travelling to and from work, but only where you cannot work from home

Gatherings of more than two people are banned, unless you are with members of your household or in very limited circumstances.

If members of the public do not comply the police may:

Instruct them to go home or disperse

Ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules

Issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days

Issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence