It’s safe to say the mercury has hit at least 16C in the UK as thousands of beachgoers crammed themselves onto the nation’s beaches yesterday, stoking fury from those observing social distancing rules.
Alarming pictures from Southend-on-Sea, on England’s southeast coast, show large crowds of people getting sunburnt in close proximity and taking a dip in the sea.
The beachgoers and the rules that allow them to gather in such numbers have drawn ire, in particular, from a local aged care worker.
“At 8am I finished my nightshift. Took off my PPE, showered, washed my uniform, and went to bed,” Louise Ellis Davies tweeted.
“While I was asleep Southend beach was packed with people, unable to social distance due to numbers. Under government guidelines they all have the ‘right’ to go there. Why do I bother?”
She was joined in her criticism from many around the UK who described the situation as “so stupid” and “absolutely ridiculous”.
People in the UK are now allowed to travel wherever they want within the nation to exercise, relax outdoors and sunbathe while following social distancing rules.
A local councillor in Southend said he believes people flocked to the beach yesterday from as far away as Manchester – a four-and-a-half-hour drive away – to sunbake on the nation’s hottest day of the year so far.
“The more I see of this, the more I fear we’re in for a second wave,” Matt Dent wrote on Facebook.
“It isn’t Southenders, it’s people travelling from outside the borough – as far away as Manchester, from what I’ve heard – who seem to think lockdown is lifted, and COVID-19 is no longer a threat.
“As a councillor I’ve had calls, messages, emails from people I represent who are frustrated that while they self-isolate and shield as they’ve been advised to do, the whole crisis is being prolonged by this sort of foolishness.”
The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 338 to 36,042, the health ministry said on Thursday.
Overnight it has been revealed about one in six people in London have already contracted the coronavirus.
That figure stands at and one in 20 elsewhere in England, according to British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, citing a recent study.
Data gathered from an antibody surveillance study led by the Office for National Statistics suggests 17 per cent of people in London and about 5.0 per cent in England have tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus, Mr Hancock said on Thursday.
Mr Hancock made the announcement as the government worked out a deal with pharmaceutical firms for delivery of 10 million antibody tests.
There was no evidence of increased infection from the coronavirus among frontline National Health Service and care staff, according to the ONS.
Mr Hancock said certificates are being considered for people who test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
“It’s not just about the clinical advances that these tests can bring. It’s that knowing that you have these antibodies will help us to understand more in the future if you are at lower risk of catching coronavirus, of dying from coronavirus and of transmitting coronavirus.”
He also announced a trial of a rapid 20-minute test to tell people if they currently have COVID-19. There has been criticism that people have been waiting days or weeks for test results.
England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, told the briefing the total number of deaths from all causes was now down to the rate in an average winter.
“So, we are essentially having a winter in health terms, in terms of mortality, but in late spring and early summer,” he said.
He also said care home deaths have peaked.
– With AP