WINDSOR, ONT. -- Officials are warning those planning to beat the heat at the beach this weekend to be careful.

“We want them to be able to enjoy our beaches, to go in swimming and have a good time,” said Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain.

Bain is concerned with the recent behaviour of Essex County residents who have been visiting the beach and park area.

“We had a problem last week with groups getting together larger than five," he said. "In fact, a couple of the groups were in around 30 people and we had to go back and break them up."

The health unit says beaches are officially closed under provincial guidance, however, parks that have beaches can technically be open.

“Follow the public health measures we have in place, practice physical distancing,” Windsor-Essex County Health Unit manager of environmental health Victoria Peczulis said.

Peczulis is warning residents to be careful when going into the water as the health unit is looking to stop the weekly beach sampling at public beaches this season.

“You want to make sure it’s safe, but I’ve lived in this area my whole life,” resident Rick Ferris said. “I haven’t really had an issue. Stay away from the water that stinks, be careful, don’t swallow the water, don’t drink the water.”

Peczulis explained the health unit staff has been stretched during the COVID pandemic and they are not in a position to take samples this year.

“If you are looking at eventually going to the beach and swimming, check for rainfall in the past 48 hours,” she said. “Cloudy water is usually an indicator of increased bacterial load.”

Peczulis said large waves can stir up bacteria and notes residents will be able to check the health unit website for historical water sample data.

Mayor Bain feels that’s not enough and is warning residents they swim at their own risk.

“Should you do so you’re taking a huge chance on your own health,” he said.