IDIOTS have been breaking into play areas and open spaces that were closed by the council, as the country battles the coronavirus.

Thurrock Council, closed all park play areas and outdoor exercise areas because it is not possible for residents including families to observe social distancing when using them, following Government guidelines,

Council officers found barriers and tape removed from equipment and there have been reports of people flouting the rules to climb into these areas

Someone had even cut a padlock on a gate to get access.

Leader of Thurrock Council, Rob Gledhill, has slammed irresponsible people who are flouting social distancing rules and breaking into closed play areas in the borough’s parks.

He said: “This kind of behaviour is selfish and completely irresponsible. By doing this people are putting the most vulnerable members of our community at appalling risk of catching what for them could be a deadly disease.

“These foolish actions can only help spread the virus and possibly prolong the amount of time we all have to observe these restrictions.

“It is up to all of us to play our part in stopping the spread of coronavirus and it’s mind-boggling that anyone would behave like this when the nation faces the most difficult situation we have seen in many of our lifetimes.

“I can assure anyone who damages any of our property or equipment we will throw the full force of the law at them.

“Cutting a padlock and removing signs is criminal damage plain and simple and we will not hesitate to prosecute.”

The issue has also caused anger on Facebook, where more than 40 residents shared the council’s message.

Others joined furious discussion about the issue.

One woman posted: “It’s the same here in Ockendon at Brannets Woods. Within two days of tape going up it was removed and people are letting their kids play on the equipment.

“The council has been out and put up more tape again. Well done to all the council workers keeping our borough safe.”

One mother said: “I saw one guy in Bonnygate Park who was teaching his two-year-old child how to break it, I think that says it all.”