A POLICE chief says social distancing is “not for the police to enforce”.

Fears that the Government’s new lockdown easing rules would mean an influx of visitors to coastal beauty spots were described as “understandable” by Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC).

He said: “There are many more reasons why people can be out legitimately now and I think all I would ask is that everybody understands these.”

He urged people to “ask themselves to make sure the way they are going to act is reasonable”.

Mr Hewitt said: “It’s not for the police to enforce social distancing. That’s a guidance and that’s everyone’s responsibility.

“But where people are deliberately flouting the rules, we will enforce them.”

He also addressed concerns that coastal beauty spots, such as Brighton and Hove, could be overwhelmed by visitors as the new guidelines allow people to drive as far as they want to take an unlimited amount of daily exercise.

Mr Hewitt said: “We have heard from lots of communities in beauty spots.

“It’s perfectly legal now for people to drive to those areas but what we would ask is, I think, for everyone to consider – as they are going out for recreation or for exercise – how reasonable their actions are.

“Is it necessary to drive a very long way to go and have that recreation or that exercise?

“And, potentially, think about those communities that live there who are, obviously and I think understandably, concerned about large influxes.

“The measures are there to allow people more time out(side) and if people use that responsibly, if they maintain the social distancing which is the guidance and the advice, then everybody can enjoy that new freedom without causing a rise in infection.”

This week, police federation leaders claimed the new measures would be “impossible” for officers to enforce and Mr Hewitt admitted this would be “challenging”.

He said: “I don’t think the job is impossible.

“It’s challenging and has been challenging from the beginning –these are emergency regulations.

“They are incredibly unusual and the police have adapted across the whole of the UK incredibly well to work with the public to achieve a reduction in the virus, which is why we are now easing those rules.”

Mr Hewitt described the updated rules as “permissive” and said police would focus on encouraging people to keep to the guidelines set.

“We will only enforce when we absolutely have to,” Mr Hewitt explained.