Thousands of UK beachgoers flout social distancing rules

Thousands of people flocked to beaches in Britain as the country experienced its hottest day of the year.

The temperature reached 28C in parts of the country, with popular beaches in Brighton, Bournemouth and Southend-on-Sea drawing huge crowds.

England has recently relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, allowing people to travel to leisure spots and meet one other person outside their household.

Social distancing restrictions are still in place but that rule appeared to be completely ignored by many beachgoers.

Pictures taken at Bournemouth Beach in Dorset captured crowds of people relaxing on the sand and in the water, with many blatantly ignoring distancing rules.

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There were similar scenes at Southend Beach in Essex, with many people appearing to take no notice of the signs telling visitors to remain two metres apart.

The crowds and blatant disregard for social distancing rules sparked fury on social media.

“Bournemouth beach had thousands of people there today not social distancing, ice cream vans, chip vans and probably a lot of skin cancer in the making. Won’t be told anything, so selfish, must have, must do, don’t care about anyone else,” one Twitter user said.

“Seeing photos of Southend and Bournemouth beaches today and thinking lockdown two may not be far away,” another said.

Another wrote: “After seeing Bournemouth beach and London parks today there is no way we will be getting no deaths anytime soon. We will be back in lockdown and this time it could be longer and worse for us.”

The easing of restrictions only applies to Britain, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland still telling people to stay at home.

The four parts of the UK have moved as one during the lockdown, which has been in place since March 23, but are starting to take different approaches during the easing phase, partly because the epidemic is at different stages.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson justified the modest easing on the grounds that Britain has passed the peak of the outbreak, with average daily death rates down.

Mr Johnson said people should use “common sense” and still adhere to social distancing.

“What we are saying is we want people to be able to use the outdoors to be able to exercise in an unlimited way outdoors but they have got to obey social distancing,” he said.

“So there can’t be any question of people just going off for holidays or staying in places like the Lake District, if they do to do exercise, it’s got to be done with social distancing.”

Critics of the UK government say the changes, spelled out in a 50-page document, are confusing and potentially dangerous – especially when it comes to returning to work.

Mr Johnson denied that there has been mixed messaging and told politicians that “the common sense of the British people is shining through”.

The UK has recorded the most coronavirus deaths in Europe, with the death toll now at more than 35,700, with more than 249,600 confirmed infections.

– With AP

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