PEOPLE have been accused of putting lives at risk by ignoring the government’s “stay at home” message and flocking to the New Forest.

Families determined to make the most of the spring sunshine have been heading for the national park and the seafront car parks that line the southern edge of the district.

Residents say the car parks cleared by the police fill up again a short time later.

Other motorists have been parking on fragile land in the national park - and police are warning that their vehicles will be seized if they continue to do so.

The government has told people to stay at home to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has killed more than 460 people across the UK. But many people are ignoring the regulations and jumping into their cars.

Police have taken to social media to voice their frustration at seeing so many families out and about.

Lymington Cops posted: “Officers patrolling the seafront from Milford on Sea to Barton on Sea are reporting back on the sheer volume of people sat on benches enjoying the sunshine.

“You are putting people at risk by doing this.

“The government has authorised one form of exercise a day. This does not include sitting down the beach, or in the Forest, enjoying the weather.”

A Barton resident who responded to the post said: “ A policeman has just cleared the car park of ten vehicles but it won’t last long and then they will be back. Why won’t people listen?”

Another social media user added: “We live opposite a car park at Milford and have been watching them send people away - but there are still cars coming in.”

People are also said to be parking on environmentally-sensitive land in the national park following the closure of Forestry England car parks.

HantsPolRural tweeted: “We’ve had reports of cars being driven directly on to the national park. If found these drivers could be issued with a £50 fixed penalty notice and, if repeated, their car could be seized.”

Officers on patrol over the weekend noticed that more people are beginning to follow the guidelines, but still not everyone.

In a Facebook post, New Forest Heart Cops, who were checking usually-busy areas, said: “Thanks to every one who stayed at home today. The car parks in the New Forest were emptier than I have ever seen them and most of those we asked to go home completely understood and did.

“It’s really important that we stay at home tomorrow, the day after and the day after that.

“And if you were one of the drivers of the cars in the photographs (and you will know who you are) perhaps you will join the rest of us and do the right thing.”