LONDON — Police around the southern English coastal town of Bournemouth urged people to stay away Thursday as thousands defied coronavirus social distancing rules and flocked to local beaches on what was the U.K.’s hottest day of the year so far.
Amid widespread rule-breaking, a “major incident” was declared for the area, much of which is rural. This gives additional powers to local authorities and emergency services.
Images of the crammed beaches appeared to prompt the British government’s chief medical officer into issuing a rare warning on social media.
Professor Chris Whitty tweeted that COVID-19 remains in “general circulation” and that cases will rise again if people don’t follow the guidelines.
“Naturally people will want to enjoy the sun but we need to do so in a way that is safe for all,” he said.
Whitty’s intervention came after Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said services were “completely overstretched” as people headed to the seaside on a day meteorologists confirmed as the hottest of 2020. The mercury hit around 92 degrees at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Extra police patrols have been brought in and security is in place to protect waste collectors who the council said faced “abuse and intimidation” as they emptied overflowing bins.