Thousands of people descended onto England’s beaches on Friday as temperatures soared, with council authorities pleading for others to stay away.
Friday was the hottest day of the year so far, with the mercury reaching highs of 37.8C at Heathrow and 37.3C in Kew Gardens. Heathrow’s temperature also made it the country’s third hottest day on record, said the Met Office.
The crowded beaches came as Boris Johnson announced further easing of lockdown restrictions would be put on hold as coronavirus infections across the country, particularly in northern England, are on the rise.
In Bournemouth and Poole, police and council officers were patrolling the seafront to enforce social distancing among the masses of people who visited the beaches today.
Police considered cordoning off Bournemouth beach as fears of overcrowding rose, a month after a major incident was declared at the same beach because of the same issue.
A spokesperson for Dorset Police told The Independent that they were prepared to use cordons in the event that overcrowding became a problem, and introduced other measures such as high visibility patrols in hotspot areas.
Brighton and Hove City Council raised concerns about the number of people in the city, and said in a post on Twitter: “If you’re not already here, please don’t travel to the city today. Large numbers make it impossible to maintain physical distancing.”
Thanet Council in Kent said reports from their coastal supervisors showed that the popular beaches at Joss Bay, Botany Bay and Viking Bay were “reaching capacity by around 11.30am”. They added: “Please reconsider these beaches if you are still planning on travelling to Thanet today.”
According to the BBC, almost the entire beach between Poole Harbour and Highcliffe was designated with the colour red on the council’s beach app, which warned potential visitors to avoid the area as “safe social distancing not possible”. Large numbers of people were also seen in Southend Beach in Essex.
Rother District Council advised visitors to avoid travelling to Camber Sands as the beach’s car parks hit full capacity before 11am.
Even beaches in Scotland were not spared, as crowds packed into Portobello Beach in Edinburgh. Police reported a “large disturbance” on the beach around 3pm, but there were no injuries confirmed, according to the Edinburgh News.
Towards the end of Friday, visitors leaving the beaches were also reminded numerous times to use extra bins provided or take their litter with them following issues of littering after beaches and other beauty spots were packed.
Thanet Council posted several messages on Twitter reminding people to respect the environment and said: “A small minority spoil our beautiful beaches, parks and open spaces by leaving their rubbish behind. Don’t be THAT person. Do the right thing and find a bin that isn’t full or take your litter home.”