A CABINET minister has warned people not to endanger themselves and risk spreading the coronavirus by crowding the beaches of Dorset.

Last weekend saw chaotic scenes at beauty spots such as Durdle Door as visitors packed beaches across the county.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said there were “lots of good sensible reasons not to go and crowd out beaches” and urged people not to “throw away the hard work” that has been done to defeat Covid-19.

At the government’s daily Downing Street briefing on the coronavirus crisis, reporter Darren Slade of our sister paper the Daily Echo asked Mr Shapps about the concerns raised by council leaders and health chiefs in Dorset.

Mr Shapps said: “When we say ‘Stay alert’, we literally mean keep two metres away from people, don’t endanger yourself and risk it and risk this spreading and for us all to throw away the hard work that we’ve done.

“So the message could not be clearer. I suspect we might be helped by the slightly cooler weather his weekend but nonetheless the message remains the same.”

He warned that lifeguards had been unable to train during the lockdown .

“That means if you are at the coast and you’re in the sea, you’re putting yourself at more risk as well if you go swimming in the sea.

“So there are lots of good sensible reasons not to go and crowd out beaches and avoid very crowded places,” he added.

Echo reporter Darren Slade also asked about the concerns of the hospitality trade, with some businesses in Bournemouth and Weymouth fearful that they might not survive the crisis.

Mr Shapps said 819,000 businesses had benefited from more than £10billion in business grants, including the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Fund.

He said it was impossible to know when people might be able to travel for tourism within the UK. “We can’t answer that until we know the path of the virus but we have stood behind companies and towns like Bournemouth,” he said.

“We intend to carry on doing so but the best way we can all do that is to defeat the virus by following the rules.”