THERE are calls for calm as Dorset prepares for a surge of visitors this weekend when lockdown restrictions ease.

The hospitality industry will reopen on what has been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ and for the first time in months people will be able to visit most of their favourite bars and restaurants – although not all have decided to open.

Authorities hope to avoid a repeat of last week when chaotic scenes saw a major incident declared in Bournemouth as thousands of people defied advice and descended on its beaches on the hottest day of the year.

At the same time, litter, disposable barbecues and human faeces were left at beauty spots such Durdle Door and left for the community to clean up afterwards.

There have been reports of a surge in bookings across hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites.

According to a survey by the RAC, this weekend will see the equivalent of more than 10m people – one third - of all drivers in England getting away for an overnight stay.

This surge in traffic will make it potentially the busiest weekend of the year so far on the roads.

But the message to those living in and coming to Dorset is clear – come back safely, respect, protect and enjoy our communities.

Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan said the success of the county’s recovery relies on people being sensible.

He also said the force had been preparing for some time and that extra officers will be drafted in.

“We know our tourism industry has been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and there is a need to welcome responsible tourists back,” he said.

“However, this needs to be done safely while appreciating the fears our resident communities may have with many thousands of people coming back to our region – with the health concerns this may bring.

“We must follow Government advice and guidance as to what is safe, but we would ask all people – whether you are a visitor or a resident – to be respectful and begin to enjoy parts of life none of us have experienced since the end of March.”

Last week saw an estimated 150,000 people descend on Bournemouth seafront – leaving 40 tonnes of rubbish.

Mr Vaughan added: “The scenes of last week were extraordinary and of significant concern to myself as a Chief Constable and a resident.

“Everyone, whether you are a visitor or a resident, has a duty to act responsibly and not to become involved in drink related anti-social behaviour or leave your rubbish to litter our beautiful region.

“Just because we are coming out of lockdown it is not an excuse to drink irresponsibly, fight or act in a way likely to bring harm to yourself and others. It will not be tolerated and police will take proactive action to deal with this kind of unacceptable behaviour.

“We have a strong collaboration with our partners and will do everything possible to keep those in the county safe – but that needs common sense and respect from all.”

Demand on police and other emergency services is expected to see a considerable increase from this weekend and for the rest of the summer season – likely to stretch well into September.

There will be more officers on patrol across the region with greater visibility and reassurance to communities throughout the summer period – particularly in areas such as Weymouth which sees some of the largest swells in population.

Chief Constable Vaughan added: “Our licensed industry will re-open on Saturday, but it will be a very different experience for those going to a pub or restaurant.

“You are very likely to have to book your visit and may be restricted to the amount of time you can spend in an establishment. We want people to enjoy that experience, but be patient and prepared to have to plan – a walk-up visit to a pub may not be possible for some weeks.

“If you are going to a beach or beauty spot, think about how you are parking your vehicle and the legacy you may leave. We have seen many tonnes of rubbish left on our coastline and country parks during the last week, which is inexcusable – respect our wonderful region and take your rubbish away.”