Hospital chiefs have expressed their concerns about people flocking to the coast – ahead of what is likely to be Dorset's busiest weekend of the year.

Despite lockdown restrictions easing and restrictions on movement lifted, authorities are hoping however that visitors will not travel to Dorset amid fears of the coronavirus spreading.

With temperatures rising and a long weekend coming up, it is feared that families from outside of Dorset will head to the seaside.

Dorset County Hospital's Chief Executive Patricia Miller and the hospital's Director of Nursing Nicky Lucey expressed their concern at the amount of people at the coast.

Also writing on Twitter, Nicky Lucey said "it was like a switch had been flipped" as she reported "loads of people out in groups and lots of gatherings in parks, plus queues outside takeaways."

Dorset Council is continuing to strongly discourage visitors from coming to the county and has launched a campaign using the hashtag #ThinkTwice.

The aim is to protect Dorset residents (many of whom are elderly and vulnerable) from further spread of Covid-19.

A Dorset Council spokesman said: "Our #ThinkTwice message to visitors is being shared by our partners in Dorset including BCP Council, Dorset Police, the Fire & Rescue Service and Public Health colleagues.

"We are also advising people strongly to comply with government guidelines and not stay overnight in campervans, tents, cars or motorhomes.

"Our advice for residents is to follow Government advice if they choose to go out and about over the weekend – don’t visit friends or family in their homes, don’t gather in groups of more than two people, make sure they stay at least 2m apart from others not in their household and to keep washing hands."

Chief Operating Officer at Dorset County Hospital Inese Robotham said: “We are really thankful to the public for following the government guidelines over the past few months and for staying home as much as possible.

“Our staff have been working incredibly hard during what has been a challenging and ever-changing period.

“Looking ahead to the Bank Holiday weekend, we would ask the public to think twice before travelling unnecessarily to help protect the NHS and save lives.

“We would also like to remind the public we are here for you in an emergency.”

Additional reporting by Jennifer Mulcahey