Britain cools off… but where's the social distancing?

Britain cools off… but where’s the social distancing? Drinkers pack into beer gardens and terraces after hottest August day in 17 years which saw sunseekers flock to beaches across the UK

  • After a scorching day, Britons flocked to bars, beer gardens and terraces, ignoring social distancing measures
  • London’s Borough Market was crowded with drinkers, many not wearing masks as they mixed and mingled 
  • The temperature in the capital hit 97.5F (36.4C) this afternoon, the hottest August day in the UK in 17 years 

Revellers crowded into London’s Borough Market this evening, with many not wearing face masks as they ignored social distancing measures to cool off after today’s sunny weather. 

Friday was the UK’s hottest August day since 2003, with sun-lovers flocking to beaches during the day, despite desperate government warnings to stay away. 

In London, drinkers crowded into Borough Market to cool off in the evening, packing beer gardens and terraces while smiling and joking as they chatted on tables squeezed close together. 

More gathered in Soho, nursing drinks as they flouted distancing guidelines to enjoy a conversation in the street. 

The capital was hit by high temperatures throughout the day, with Heathrow and Kew Gardens hitting 97.5F (36.4C).

Many appeared to unworried by coronavirus fears, mixing without masks, despite cases in the UK rising steadily in the last month driving fears of a second wave

The hot weather is expected to continue over the weekend, with the RAC adding that it is expecting the busiest weekend of the year. 

Pubs, beaches and parks are all expected to be filled with people mixing in the sun, despite fears that the virus is still spreading. 

It comes after Preston’s director of public health warned that mixing in pubs is to blame for the area being put back into lockdown.  

People enjoying a drink in Borough Market near London Bridge today after a day of scorching hot temperatures hit the capital

Most appeared to be mask-less as they mixed close together in beer gardens and on terraces to cool off after a day of hot weather

Social distancing guidelines were barely maintained as Britons enjoyed a drink in the capital, with fears the scenes could be repeated over the weekend

Friday was the UK’s hottest August day since 2003, with sun-lovers flocking to beaches during the day, despite desperate government warnings to stay away

Pubs, beaches and parks are all expected to be filled with people mixing in the sun, despite fears that the virus is still spreading

Speaking at a media briefing after the announcement the city had been designated an ‘area of intervention’ on Friday, director of Public Health for Lancashire Sakthi Karunanithi said almost half of the cases reported were among people aged 30 and younger.

Health chiefs warned the measures for the Lancashire city – home to 140,000 people – will be kept under review but threatened tougher action if residents don’t abide by the rules.

All residents will be banned from mixing with any other households indoors or in a garden from midnight, in a last-ditch attempt to curb soaring rates of coronavirus. They will also be urged to avoid meeting with friends in any setting, such as pubs and restaurants.

However, the scorching heatwave suggests that Britain could face a weekend of people flouting social distancing measures as they visit beaches and pubs. 

On Friday, angry locals in Bournemouth hit out at tourists ‘heading here with cars full of rubbish to dump on our beaches’ and slammed ‘careless idiots’ putting pressure on the emergency services. Others urged people to ‘avoid the beaches’ and warned of ‘gridlock on the roads’ as daytrippers flocked to seasides along the south coast.  

It comes after Preston’s director of public health warned that mixing in pubs is to blame for the area being put back into lockdown

On Friday, angry locals in Bournemouth hit out at tourists ‘heading here with cars full of rubbish to dump on our beaches’, with the scenes repeated in beer gardens in London in the evening

RAC Breakdown said it is expecting this weekend to be the busiest of the year for the company, as Britons try to take full advantage of the scorching weather

The capital was hit by high temperatures throughout the day, with Heathrow and Kew Gardens hitting 97.5F (36.4C) 

Unlike last Friday’s scorching day, this week the heatwave is set to continue into the weekend, raising fears of a spread in virus cases

In Heathrow and Kew Gardens the hottest August day since 2003 was recorded as temperatures reached 97.5F (36.4C).

Beaches across the south coast were already packed by mid-morning, further stoking fears among police and local councils that tourists will ignore coronavirus social distancing rules and cram onto packed seafronts.

The scenes could be repeated on Saturday and Sunday, with the scorching weather set to continue.  

Furious critics took to social media to slam beach-goers and accuse them of ‘undoing the hard work of lockdown’.

One wrote: ‘Here they are again, all the idiots on Brighton beach putting all of us at risk, they just keep on coming.’

A second said: ‘Government: ‘Stay away from beaches today. It’s hot, but no amount of heat is surely enough to risk your health and the health of loved ones by breaking social distancing rules, and undoing all the hard work of the last 4 months of lockdown.’

While a third added: ‘My worst nightmare, even before COVID. Too many people. We will never get over this virus if people are this stupid. Just because it’s hot doesn’t mean you should all pack a beach & not socially distance.’

Unlike last Friday, when cloud and drizzle followed, this time the heatwave is here to stay until at least Tuesday. The mercury hit 96.4F (35.8C) at Kew Gardens in West London at 2pm today, and is set to soar further.

Friends standing close together in Soho, London, flouting social distancing measures as they mix in the warm evening weather

Most even appeared to be going without a mask, despite standing closer than a metre to  each other as they enjoyed a drink

People enjoy a drink this afternoon at Borough Market near London Bridge as hot temperatures and warm weather hit the capital

What social distancing? Friends crouch close together in London’s Borough Market this evening as they cool off after a hot day

Motorists heading through Hampshire faced 15 miles of queues, with delays on the A31, M27 and M3 towards the coast. Visitors to the South West were told to avoid busy beaches amid a rush to Cornwall, with the RNLI saying: ‘If you arrive at the beach and it is simply too crowded, consider moving on and spending your day elsewhere.’ 

RAC Breakdown said it is expecting this weekend to be the busiest of the year for the company, as traffic jams and long delays look ‘inevitable’.  

Ben Sheridan, from The AA, said: ‘Motorways, coastal routes and roads to ferry crossings are likely to be busy.

‘Many drivers will be hitting the road early to beat the heat, while others will stay home to stay cool.’

Delays and cancellations are likely for rail passengers, as high temperatures can damage overhead wires and lead to speed restrictions due to fears of tracks buckling. 

HM Coastguard warned people to stay safe on the beach after rescue teams responded to 70 callouts across the UK by midday today – ‘above average for this time of year’, one week after its busiest day for more than four years. 

Bournemouth council warned shortly after noon that 20 out of its 24 beaches along the Dorset coast were already categorised as ‘avoid, social distancing not possible’. All car parks in Sandbanks were full and shut by 11am, while police also warned tourists of a ‘long queue’ for the ferry – and traffic in the Christchurch area faced long delays. 

The Camber Sands car park in East Sussex was full by midday with drivers queuing since before 8am, while police warned they will be monitoring the area amid claims of an illegal ‘beach cook out’ planned for this weekend.   

Crowds flocked to Brighton as temperatures hit 36.4C (97.4F) today making it the hottest August day in the UK since 2003

The beach at Brighton was packed with sun-goers as many beaches across the south filled to capacity and local leaders asked visitors to stay away

Parts of England are enjoying a three-day heatwave with temperatures set to reach record breaking levels in parts of the South East

RNLI Lifeguards look out over the beach as people enjoy the hot weather at Bournemouth beach in Dorset this afternoon

A man jumps from the jetty into the sea in Brighton, on the south coast of England, as the temperature rose

People enjoy the hot weather on the banks of the River Lea in east London, where the mercury has hit the highest since 2003

A parks police car patrols by sunbathers on Hampstead Heath as the temperature soars in London

People enjoy the hot weather on a packed Bournemouth beach in Dorset at about 3pm this afternoon

The very hot conditions, which have been caused by air warming up over France before being drawn north, have led to health warnings. 

Britain has never recorded two days with temperatures over 99F (37C) in the same year since records began.

Parts of the South of England are even expected to be hotter than the Caribbean, with highs of 91F (33C) in Jamaica and 84F (29C) Barbados.

The Met Office has also issued a level-three heat health alert which warns Britons to look out for the elderly, vulnerable and young children. 

There are also fears tourists flocking to coastal hotspots will ignore social distancing rules and cram on to packed seafronts in scenes similar to last weekend – risking further spread of coronavirus. 

The Met Office warned people in South East England to close curtains on rooms facing the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler, drink plenty of fluids, avoid excess alcohol, dress appropriately and ‘slow down when it is hot’.   

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