Brits head back to beaches in hot weather amid concerns over social distancing

20 May 2020, 14:30

Hundreds of people on Bournemouth beach today
Hundreds of people on Bournemouth beach today. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The UK has experienced its hottest temperatures this year, with Brits flocking to beaches and parks to enjoy the sizzling weather.

The glorious weather across the UK has led to questions over social distancing measures as people meet in parks and on beaches to relax in the sunshine.

The government's official advice for England states that people can now meet with one other person not from their household in a park or open space, but that social distancing rules of two metres must be upheld.

In Wales, the advice is still to stay home except for very limited purposes and gatherings of more than 2 people in public are not allowed.

However, videos on Southend beach appear to show sunbathers enjoying their new found freedom without social distancing.

Mark Johnson, who owns a deckchair company in Southend, told LBC News: "We've only just opened again on Sunday because people were still scared and cautious.

"But it's getting gradually better, slowly but surely, people are getting more confident with the social distancing.

"People are adhering to it pretty well. There's a few people, less busy than normal, about 50 per cent of what it can be, but it's decent considering the circumstances.

"98 per cent are adhering to social distancing but you will always get the idiots unfortunately."

However, a couple out for the day at Southend Beach told LBC News: "It's like the rules are six inches apart, not six feet apart.

"Everyone is just so close and no one is taking any notice of the rules.

"People are taking their kids over into it as well, it's just silly, it's not right.

"A friend of mine came down yesterday and he said it was empty and then we come down here and see what it was like, it is incredible.

"We have stayed away from the crowds, keeping our distance, on a wall away from the beach."

Local councils have urged people to stick to social distancing and reminded the public that facilities such as outdoor pools and public toilets remained closes.

Officers will also be patrolling popular beauty spots and parks to ensure people are abiding by the government’s guidance.

Tourist spots have also asked people to stay away with many attractions remaining closed and the majority beaches not being lifeguarded.

Brighton beach
Brighton beach. Picture: PA
Teignmouth beach in Devon
Teignmouth beach in Devon. Picture: PA
Brighton beach
Brighton beach. Picture: PA
Bournemouth beach in Dorset
Bournemouth beach in Dorset. Picture: PA
People were clearly enjoying the hot weather in Bournemouth
People were clearly enjoying the hot weather in Bournemouth. Picture: PA

The beach in Redcar, North Yorkshire, was also packed.

Mandy Turner, a care worker, told LBC News she is "furious" at people flouting the rules.

She said: "Some of us sleep in hotels to keep our families safe and people are gathering on the beach, walking along the seafront, not distancing and not taking it seriously.

"It undermines us looking after people who are poorly. They're not distancing at all."

Popular beaches in Brighton, Bournemouth and Teignmouth were also busy.

It comes as the UK recorded its hottest day of the year so far - beating the top temperature set the day before.

The mercury climbed to 27.8C (82F) near Heathrow Airport on Wednesday.

Sunbathers also made the most of their new-found freedom following the easing of lockdown restrictions as London's St James's Park saw a high of 26.2C on Tuesday, beating 2020's previous top temperature of 26C (78.8F) set last month.

The sunshine is set to continue for most of the UK on Wednesday, with temperatures expected to hit 28C.

Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said: "There will be a bit of a grey, misty start for some first thing but that will quickly burn away.

"The vast majority of the UK will have a dry day with sunny spells, if not blue skies all day for some."

There is a risk of thunderstorms on Thursday in east and south-east England as a band of rain pushes eastwards.

Temperatures are predicted to cool from 24C or 25C before the rain to a fresher 17C (62.6F) to 21C (69.8F) on Friday.