RESIDENTS have been warned they must comply with social distancing measures after people were seen flouting the rules and using outdoor play equipment.

Braintree Council has closed all play areas and public gym equipment to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Parks run by the authority remain open to allow people to exercise but people have been spotted breaking the rules and using public areas which have been closed.

The council says it has been contacted about rule breakers on a number of occasions and is urging the public to report incidents to the police.

A spokesman said: "We have received a number of enquiries that people are ignoring the signs we put up to make people aware of these closures, and are still congregating in these areas.

"If you have concerns about people congregating, please call the local policing team on 101."

Under new legislation passed in Parliament last week, police now have the power to disperse gatherings of more than two people.

They are also able to issue on the spot fines for anyone breaching social distancing restrictions.

The council spokesman added: "Please remember that we have to put the safety of our communities first, particularly our vulnerable residents.

"Making children keep to the recommended two metres distance in a busy playground or play area is difficult, and the play equipment, which is used by a large number of small hands, is unable to be disinfected and so represents a high cross-contamination risk of the virus.

"We are keeping our public spaces open at the moment, to give people space to walk, exercise once a day, and to help their mental wellbeing. If you visit one of our public spaces, please do follow the Government’s social distancing guidance."

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