Devon and Cornwall Police has asked that people do not make journeys to its force area this weekend, nor next weekend which is the Easter Bank Holiday, unless essential.

Officers say the express aim is to slow slowing the spread of coronavirus, protecting the NHS and ultimately saving lives.

The advice is:

Stay at home

Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home).

If you go out, stay two metres (6ft) away from other people at all times.

Wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

A police spokesman said: “Devon and Cornwall Police officers, all other blue light and health services and key workers are doing an incredible job in keeping the public safe, but we ask you to consider that increasing the population of our area will place an unreasonable burden on them.

“Increasing the number of people in any given area will also of course make it more difficult to observe vital social distancing.

“Devon and Cornwall, our Force area which contains many beauty spots and popular beaches, will still be here when the coronavirus outbreak is contained, so please #comebacklater

“To keep everyone safe this weekend and the next, Devon and Cornwall Police will continue to engage with the public about whether their travel is necessary and reasonable and encourage them to choose differently for the welfare of themselves and others. “Enforcement is a last resort, and so far no penalties have been given under the current conditions.

“The public will see a highly visible police presence both in vehicles and foot patrols, proactively policing areas where people may put themselves at risk by not following government advice about travel and social distancing.

“These areas include main arterial routes into the force area including service and rest areas, minor roads leading to concentrated second home areas, commercial premises and industrial sites, the aforementioned beauty spots and popular beaches and also in urban areas where young people may be tempted to gather and where anti-social behaviour could be an issue.

“Officers will check vehicles, but not liveried vehicles such as those working for highways departments, utility distribution networks or food and medical distribution.

“This is in order to ascertain whether the journey being undertaken is reasonable in supporting the purpose of government advice to protect the NHS and save lives and, as has been said, engage, explain and encourage.

“Devon and Cornwall Police has an extensive and constantly updated set of frequently asked questions about coronavirus and the Force’s response, plus other essential information, on its website: