THE leader of BCP Council has voiced her horror after pictures emerged showing crowds of people on the seafront on the weekend.

Councillor Vikki Slade warns people to “stay at home” and fears residents may be enforced to stay inside on a lockdown if they continue to visit the beach.

Despite the UK government advising people to avoid unnecessary contact and stay at home, large groups were seen gathering on beaches across Dorset over the weekend.

The crowds come as PM Boris Johnson said it is crucial that people take advice to stay two metres apart and to follow social distancing.

As of Sunday, 281 people have died from coronavirus in the UK.

Crowds of teenagers, families and groups of adults in beach huts were “behaving like it is holiday season”, according to residents.

While Southbourne and Boscombe beaches were filled with walkers on Saturday, Lulworth Cove saw friends gathering to drink takeaway pints.

Councillor Vikki Slade said: “I was horrified to see these pictures. For fresh air, there are plenty of places you can go well away from others, I understand the need to walk dogs or get exercise but heading to the beach just isn’t acceptable.

“I hope we don’t have to enforce being inside completely but I fear this might follow if people don’t take responsibility.”

The councillor has also urged people to stay in contact with friends and families through methods of video calling.

She added: “We also need people to queue responsibly - crushing time to get into a pharmacy or supermarket is simply not safe and if you haven’t already, get a friend or relative to help you set up video calling.

“The message is stay at home unless you need to go out and if you feel the need to take some exercise or go out for supplies, do it responsibly and keep your distance. Help protect the NHS and the vulnerable.”

One witness, who did not want to be named, said: “There were large numbers of people out on the beach behaving like it is holiday season.

“When are these people going to get a grip, stop being selfish and protect the numerous elderly and vulnerable living here? They have no excuse. This is hard for everyone.

One nearby resident said: "The car park at Lulworth Cove was completely full over this weekend. People were behaving as though it was a public holiday.

"Groups of people and children, nobody distancing.

"You're happy at the moment. Will you be when it comes to you?

"I've been ashamed to witness the disgusting selfish behaviour that has emerged from the minority of UK people during this crisis."

BCP council has set up a Together We Can programme to help vulnerable people in coming weeks.

Those wanting to get involved with the scheme can visit