PLEASE don’t overcrowd the countryside when the coronavirus restrictions are further eased on Saturday is the plea from the county’s tourist board.

Visit Surrey says relaxation of the lockdown has allowed the public to again enjoy roaming further from home for more than a daily exercise session.

However, there is a risk that the countryside and its more-popular attractions will become packed with people, causing COVID-19 safety rules to be breached.

“I appreciate everyone has their favourite scenic spot in Surrey, but those places can get incredibly busy, making it difficult to stay socially distant,” said Visit Surrey chairman Christine Howard.

“If it’s possible, I urge the public to seek out some new areas away from the crowds. Visit our beautiful county and some of its attractions as safely as possible.”

She said that Visit Surrey members had embraced the relaxation of lockdown restrictions with suitable caution and flexibility.

Many of the county’s tourist attractions, historic landmarks and National Trust properties had introduced a pre-booked ticketed system for visitors. Time slots had helped to spread out arrival times and ease visitor concerns.

Other changes included one-way systems and signs to enable social distancing. Concerns about toilet facilities had been overcome at some places by introducing individual, regularly cleaned “posh” portable lavatories.

“However, it is early days and, as we look forward to welcoming back our restaurants, cafes and hotels from 4 July, we ask the public to continue to be respectful of the social distancing measures put in place,” said Christine.

The sentiment was echoed by Woking MP Jonathan Lord, who has welcomed the easing of the lockdown to enable businesses such as pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theme parks to trade again from Saturday.

“I hope people get out to support the tourism and hospitality businesses which are reopening after a challenging three months, and which are so vital to our local economy and jobs,” he said.

“But safety is of paramount importance and it is vital that social distancing rules and safety guidance are adhered to, and local people as well as our guests feel safe and I will continue to press that.”

For more on this story, get the 2 July edition of the News & Mail