BRITS have been warned not to “blow it now” after thousands packed beaches and parks, sparking fears of a lockdown extension.
Experts have warned of a spike in infections after cooped-up sunseekers flocked outdoors to mark the hottest March day in more than half a century yesterday.
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Sunseekers packed Brighton beach yesterday as temperatures soared to 24CCredit: i-Images
Sunseekers have been warned to stick to social distancing rules as thousands flocked to beauty spotsCredit: WNS
Crowds of revellers enjoyed a sundown party at Brighton beachCredit: Getty
Police were eventually forced to block the entrance to Hyde Park in LeedsCredit: NB PRESS LTD
Huge crowds gathered for picnics at Primrose HillCredit: James Curley
It came after groups of up to six people were allowed to meet outdoors. for the first time on Monday.
The mercury is expected to soar again today, but lockdown-weary sunseekers were warned to stay socially distanced and not risk another spike in Covid infections.
Heath Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “Let’s enjoy the sun but let’s do it safely. We’ve come so far – don’t blow it now.”
GMB’s Dr Hilary Jones said “worrying” scenes of packed-out parks and beaches “speak for themselves”.
He added: “You can have a group of six but you can’t have socially distance from another group of six if they are sitting right next to you.
“That’s not a group of six, it’s a group of 12, and so it goes on, When I look at those pictures I do worry about the numbers of infections that we are going to see going forwards.”
He added: “When you’re getting mass gatherings like that you’re going to get transmission of the virus.”
Tourism chiefs urged Brits not to flout the easing of restrictions by taking day trips, with the rules set to relax again and permit overnight stays in self-catered accommodation on April 12.
Sally Everton, director of Visit Devon, said: “Coming up on the A30 all I saw was cars with surfboards on the roof. Either they’re going to get their surfboards waxed or serviced, or they’re looking for some waves.
Revellers with balloons gathered in Hyde Park this afternoonCredit: NB PRESS LTD
Booze has been banned in Nottingham after these wild scenes yesterday
Beachgoers erupted into an impromptu party with flame throwers in BrightonCredit: Getty
“I’m quite disappointed because people will flout the law. What we need is an enforcement notice from the Government to say that while people can move around, they should stay local and to still minimise travel.”
Crowds of revellers appeared to throw caution to the wind during yesterday’s 24C scorcher, despite cops banning booze in parks in Nottingham due to rowdy drunken brawls on Monday.
In Brighton, celebrations kicked on well into the night with beachgoers erupting into an impromptu party with flame throwers as huge crowds gathered to watch.
While in Leeds, police descended on a park rammed with sun seekers following reports of a stabbing – but West Yorkshire Police found no-one injured after searching with officers and a helicopter.
In Nottingham, the leader of the local council announced a ban on drinking alcohol in public places.
Councillor David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “We have had discussions with senior police officers and there will be increased presence in our parks.
“Drinking alcohol in public spaces is not permitted in Nottingham and will be seized on entry to our parks today.
A reveller with a balloon in LeedsCredit: Ben Lack
Crowds grew in Hyde Park, LeedsCredit: NB PRESS LTD
Parks were left trashed after crowds gatheredCredit: NB PRESS LTD
Thousands filled Hyde Park in Leeds, West Yorkshire this afternoonCredit: Ben Lack
“It’s also totally unacceptable for people to litter our parks in this way. Parks have been a lifeline for many during the pandemic and our staff have worked tirelessly to keep them open, clean and safe.”
Large crowds of more than six gathered at the Arboretum in Nottingham, as some boozy students could be seen starting a fight while hundreds broke social distancing rules.
Nottinghamshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cooper said: “The behaviour yesterday was unacceptable and we are disappointed people decided to behave in this selfish way.
“That is why we have now taken the decision to put a dispersal order in place.
“Our officers will continue to engage with people to ensure they are still sticking to the rules.
“It is up to us all to keep to the measures so we can continue on the road map out of lockdown, by keeping the virus at bay.”
Meanwhile in Cornwall, tourist bosses have warned it is “still illegal” to visit as lockdown restrictions have started to lift.
Quad bikes were ridden dangerously around Cannon Hill in BirminghamCredit: SnapperSK
Revellers drinking alcohol packed into Cannon Hill in BirminghamCredit: SnapperSK
Crowds gathered in Richmond, LondonCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Crowds gathered with water toys in NottinghamCredit: Ashley Kirk
Clouds of smoke was seen as people gathered at the Forest Recreation groundCredit: Ashley Kirk
Visit Cornwall’s Malcom Bell said: “The hospitality sector in Cornwall is working hard to get ready for visitors when the time is right – and no one wants to experience another lockdown.
“We want visitors to hear this message, plan ahead, book now and visit later when the rules allow and we look forward to welcoming you back to our beautiful part of the world.”
A message released by Cornwall council warned people should “minimise travel” with no holidays.
Brits basked in record-breaking heat on Monday as temperatures rose to their highest level in March for over 50 years.
Highs of 24.2C were recorded in St James’ Park, London – the first time a figure so high has been seen in March since 1968.
Disease expert Dr Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer at Exeter University, has warned that Brits must keep their circles small in the continued fight against Covid.
He added that caution and care are needed, as people brace for the hottest day of the year so far.
Dr Pankhania told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “People have been kept in their homes for a very long time and there is of course a build-up of frustration.
“What is important is that people do not extend their circle of friends extensively because this is a human-to-human spread of infection.
People flocked to Primrose Hill yesterdayCredit: The Sun
Cops speak to a man as people enjoy the weather at Clapham CommonCredit: Reuters
Queue for the bathroom in Birmingham
“What we need to do is keep your circle of friends small and tight.”
He added: “The expression ‘slippery slope’ is very apt, especially when it is aided by alcohol because what happens when you have a drink and then another one, in the background of a lot of frustration of having been in restrictions, you drop your guard and when you drop your guard and you go indoors with poor ventilation that is where the dangers are.
“Caution, care is needed.”
‘DON’T DROP YOUR GUARD’
Yesterday, large crowds of more than six gathered at the Arboretum in Nottingham – where revellers enjoyed beers and danced in the warm weather.
Revellers could then be seen spraying bottles of alcohol in the air – chanting and clapping as many joined in and danced in the centre of the madness.
One party-seeker, pulling his shirt over his nose as a make-shift mask, said: “Everyone is feeling happy again, and that’s what’s important.”
The PM has lifted the stay-at-home guidance to allow groups of up to six, or two households, to meet outside in England.
He said yesterday in a video message to the nation to mark the unlocking: “You’ll no longer have to stay at home, but many restrictions will stay in place.
People enjoy the sun in Battersea Park, London
Pals soak up the sun in Bournemouth yesterday
Hundreds of people have flocked to a Hyde Park in Leeds
Brighton beach is packed as visitors flock to the seaside on the hottest day of the year so far
“You should continue to work from home if you can and minimise travel, avoiding the busiest times and route.
“You won’t be able to go abroad holiday yet because we don’t want people to bring back new variants of the virus when they return.”
He added in another plea: “It’s vital that we don’t overdo it and risk all the progress we have made.
“Please follow the new rules carefully so that we can gradually get back to normal together.”
A No 10 source said yesterday: “Today marks the first real freedom for so many people who haven’t seen their loved ones for months.”
Boris wants to kick off “a Great British summer of sport” — urging the public to get outdoors and take in vitamin D to boost immune systems against Covid.
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said there was a “high likelihood” cases would rise as lockdown restrictions were steadily lifted under the Government’s road map.
He added, however, that the impact should be “modest” if people continued to follow social-distancing guidelines.
Sunbathers enjoy the heat in BournemouthCredit: [email protected]
Sunbathers in Richmond todayCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Hundreds of boozy students gathered as a fight broke out at the Arboretum in Nottingham