What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes: Coronavirus lockdown bites into Easter bank holiday with beaches deserted and roads empty as Britons heed ‘stay at home’ warnings

  • Popular beaches at Bournemouth, Brighton and Weymouth deserted this morning as Britons stayed home 
  • Typically busy motorways were also eerily quiet on what is normally one of the busiest days for car journeys
  • Photographs taken this Good Friday show a very different scene to the bustling bank holiday of a year ago 

Beaches are deserted and motorways empty this Good Friday as Britons take notice of warnings to stay at home – in scenes far from the same  bank holiday weekend a year ago.

Police have stepped up patrols and road checks this weekend as they warned would-be day-trippers to stay away from beauty spots as the country prepares to enter its fourth week of coronavirus lockdown on Easter Monday.  

The strict lockdown measures, which were announced on March 23, were put in place in an effort to keep people inside and halt the spread of the virus, which has killed 7,978 amid 65,077 confirmed cases in the UK.

But despite rules banning public gatherings and asking Britons to stay inside unless for essential trips to supermarkets and daily exercise, police have been forced to break up beach barbecues and dozens of house parties over recent weeks.

Police chiefs have even called for laws to ban Britons from driving long distances and flouting rules to exercise more than once a day ahead of a 77F (25C) Easter weekend. 

But Britons appeared to have taken notice of these warnings as the four-day break began, with typically busy motorways left eerily quiet on Good Friday – usually one of the busiest days of the year for car journeys.

Popular beaches at Brighton, Bournemouth and Weymouth were also deserted this morning in photographs far from the bustling seaside scenes captured over the heatwave bank holiday weekend last year.    

Temperatures this year are also forecast to be high, with temperatures expected to reach 77F (25C) this Good Friday, before soaring to 79F (26C) in the south on Saturday. 

Forecasters expect temperatures to be cooler on Sunday and Monday, with some showers predicted.


Bournemouth Beach was deserted this morning (right) in photographs far from those taken on the bank holiday weekend a year earlier (left)


The M25 near Dartford in Kent was also eerily quiet this morning (right) compared to the busy traffic of the four-day holiday last year (left)


A before and after comparison shows Lyme Regis beach in Dorset, both today as it lies almost completely empty (left), and at this time last year when it was teeming with holidaymakers (right) 

In Weymouth, the beach was completely empty this morning despite the sunny and warm weather, with temperatures expected to hit 77F (25C) in the UK

Determined Britons are getting creative with their Easter weekend plans this Good Friday as temperatures are set to hit 77F today amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. 

Families have been setting up paddling pools and planning for camping trips to the bottom of their gardens as they prepared to make the best of the long weekend from the comfort of their homes. 

Supermarkets have seen surges in sales of barbecues and yoga equipment ahead of the bank holiday, with Amazon reporting a 4000 per cent increase in demand for paddling pools yesterday.

Temperatures are expected to be warmer than Ibiza in Britain today, with highs of 77F (25C) forecast in the south compared to 64F (18C) in the Spanish holiday hotspot. This soars past a 111-year-old record set for April 10 in 1909, when highs of 74F (23.3C) were recorded in Devon.    

The Easter weekend temperatures will climb even higher on Saturday, with ‘long warm sunny spells’ and highs of 79F (26C) expected in London – though the Met Office has warned of some ‘scattered heavy showers’ during the afternoon. 

Sunday and Monday will see cooler temperatures, with highs of 75F (24C) and 68F (20C) expected for the latter half of the bank holiday.  

Jamie Ross, 36, from Nottingham, transformedhis garden into the world-famous venue O Beach in Ibiza for his seven-year-old daughter Ava-Olivia, complete with a barbecue, paddling pool and a selection of Barbie dolls


Families have been setting up paddling pools (left) and organising ‘Spanish’ getaways from the comfort of their homes (right) as they planned to stay inside this bank holiday weekend amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown

Temperatures are expected to hit 77F (25C) today, with highs of 79F (26C) forecast for Saturday. Sunday could see some thunder in the afternoon

In an early indication of bank holiday plans, Amazon yesterday reported a 4,000 per cent surge in sales of paddling pools alongside a rush for parasols and sun loungers.  

Supermarkets also saw a rise in demand for barbecues and yoga equipment, the Times reported, with sales of alcohol also jumping 22 per cent ahead of the Easter weekend. 

Determined Britons have come up with creative ways to make the most of the long weekend, with one father recreating an Ibiza holiday in his garden after his daughter’s dream holiday was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

Jamie Ross, 36, from Nottingham, transformed the space into the world-famous venue O Beach for his seven-year-old daughter Ava-Olivia, complete with a barbecue, paddling pool and a selection of Barbie dolls.

Sharing his unique holiday method on Facebook, Mr Ross wrote: ‘So after a long flight, I have finally made it to Ocean Beach to DJ. Lockdown has f****d me!’ 

Mr Ross decided to make the video in an attempt to cheer up his daughter as she was left devastated after hearing their first family holiday was likely to be cancelled.

He said: ‘I decided to make the video when the holiday companies stopped all non-essential travel indefinitely.

‘We were meant to be going on our first family holiday as a four in June so things are not looking good.


Sharing his unique holiday method on Facebook, Mr Ross wrote: ‘So after a long flight, I have finally made it to Ocean Beach to DJ. Lockdown has f****d me!’ (Pictured: Ava-Olivia)

Others set up ball pits in their gardens which were ‘quickly changed into paddling pools’ ahead of the long weekend

Another family opted to spend the night in a tent in their garden and wake up on Good Friday to bacon and egg sandwiches

‘I mentioned to my daughter that we might not be able to go and of course, she was really upset – mostly because she wouldn’t be able to wear her new bikini. So I thought I would bring some sort of holiday to the garden.’  

Britons have also taken to social media to share their plans for the warm weekend, with one family re-creating their cancelled Spanish holiday in their garden.

On Twitter, the would-be holidaymaker said: ‘Out of office is on! Ready for a couple of days holiday to recharge.

‘Cancelled holiday to Spain, so Spain is coming to our garden! Tapas and paella.

‘Tonight we [flew], sat in a line, film on. ‘Beach’ games tomorrow, [tent] at night, paddling pool.’  




Britons have taken to social media to share their plans for the warm weekend, with one couple planning to re-create their cancelled Spanish holiday in their garden

Another woman, Jane Anderson, explain her family is going to ‘Not Devon’ this Easter, joking it is ‘closely related to North Devon, however we cause less  mess to our friend’s house..!’

‘Our paddling pool is the sea, the scones homemade, the cards will be played virtually and I may cry but when we get there eventually it’ll be worth the wait.’ 

Others said they would be taking part in a camping trip – to the bottom of their garden.

How are you spending YOUR Easter weekend? 

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‘Agreed on the condition that I was allowed a shower,’ a social media user said. 

Some started their Easter weekends with a book before tackling some gardening, with others placing plastic slides into their paddling pools for the kids. 

‘Paddling pool being set up in the garden,’ another added. ‘It’s not a big garden we have but its fine for the three of us and the dog.

‘BBQ to the side and music playing… our sunbathing will be done there! Let’s hope others are doing the same this weekend.’ 

Met Office forecaster Matthew Box said Britons should expect highs of 77F (25C) across western England and London this Good Friday, with temperatures of 69F (21C) to 73F (23C) forecast widely across the country.  



Some started their Easter weekends with a book before tackling some gardening, with others placing plastic slides into their paddling pools for the kids

Britons walks and run on the Long Walk at Windsor Castle today as temperatures begin to rise amid the nationwide lockdown

He said: ‘A temperature of 25C is likely today as a spot high somewhere, it will be widely 21 to 23, and 24 maybe and then somewhere in the western side of England is likely to get to 25C and maybe West London as well.

‘It’s going to be another warm day for much of the country on Saturday particular in England and Wales. The highest temperatures of the year so far is expected on Saturday with highs of 26C in some parts of London.

‘There will also be scattered showers on Saturday which will be the difference between yesterday and today which has been widely sunny so far.

‘There will also be spells of sunshine for Scotland on Saturday.’

Mr Box said this rain will continue into Easter Sunday, with the ‘odd rumble of thunder’ expected in the afternoon – with ‘lots of sunshine in between.’

An empty Blackpool beach seen on Good Friday today as Britons stay home amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown

An overhead sign on the M8 in Glasgow advises people today not to travel this Easter weekend, with concerns that the hot weather will lead to Brits flouting lockdown rules

‘It will be a cooler day for many in the west of England underneath cloudier conditions on Sunday, with temperatures in these areas struggling to get into double figures.

‘Further east will be a much better day, with temperatures between 17C and 20C expected widely. The hottest place is likely to be London with temperatures of 23C or 24C.’

Monday will be a breezier day, Mr Box added, with maximum temperatures in the south of England reaching 68F (20C).

‘The unsettled weather we’re seeing in the west on Sunday clears away over night, we may see showers on the south coast, but the rest of the country will be in settled weather,’ he said.

‘It will be cooler than we’ve had as late with northern and easterly winds, with maximum temperatures in the south of 20C.’  

    Police tell locked-down Brits they can’t go in their own GARDENS: Officer orders family back inside for playing in their yard – while others prowl supermarket aisles looking for shoppers buying ‘non-essential’ items

    By Alexander Robertson for MailOnline

    Heavy-handed police are prowling supermarket aisles in a bid to catch shoppers buying ‘non-essential’ items amid concerns that officers are abusing their powers as Britain goes into lockdown for the Easter weekend. 

    Police forces across the country have been accused of being over-zealous in their crackdown as they threatened to set up road blocks to grill motorists on why they were not at home, causing #policestateUK to trend on Twitter.  

    Downing Street warned police today that  ‘if a shop is open then it will sell whatever it has in stock’, while Home Secretary Priti Patel called on officers not to be ‘heavy-handed’ during the coronavirus lockdown. 

    It comes as Cambridge Police’s official Twitter account boasted that officers had visited a local superstore this morning to snoop on shoppers and found aisles selling non-essentials were ’empty’.

    The tweet caused outrage from social media users, with many pointing to a post sent by the same account hours earlier thanking a local chocolate shop for dropping off a ‘generation donation of goodies’ at its police station. 

    Meanwhile a viral video showed a South Yorkshire police officer scolding a family on their own doorstep for letting their young children play on their front lawn.

    The force later apologised for the encounter, which it called ‘well-intentioned but ill-informed’, after the officer told the young family: ‘You do not want your children getting the virus, it does not stop in front of your garden.’

    It comes as police chiefs called for laws to ban Britons from driving long distances and flouting rules to exercise more than once a day ahead of a 77F (25C) Easter weekend.

    Warnings that officers would stop and search those venturing out during the four-day break saw Britain’s roads left eerily quiet on Good Friday, on what is usually one of the busiest days of the year for car journeys. 

    Motorways, usually teeming with millions of holidaymakers making their way to seaside resorts, were left deserted this morning as top cops warned they would set up road blocks to grill motorists on why they were not at home.


    A video shows a South Yorkshire police officer scolding a family on their own doorstep for letting their young children play on their lawn during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has killed 7,978 people in the UK so far

    Cambridge Police’s official Twitter account boasted this morning that officers had visited a local superstore and found aisles selling non-essentials such as barbecues and sun loungers were ’empty’

    Cambridge Police’s tweet in which it gloated of prowling through non-essential aisles was met with anger by many on social media.  

    The tweet read: ‘Officers visited Tesco Barhill this morning as part of their patrols around supermarkets and green spaces this weekend.

    ‘Good to see everyone was abiding by social distancing measures and the non-essential aisles were empty.’

     But in a follow-up on Twitter the force said the initial post, which has since been deleted, was made by an ‘over exuberant officer’ and that its position was in line with national guidance.

    ‘For clarification, the force position, in line with national guidance, is that we are not monitoring what people are buying from supermarkets,’ it said.

    ‘This message was sent with good intentions by an over exuberant officer who has been spoken to since this tweet was published.’

    The force added that while it has had to issue a small number of fines to those ignoring lockdown guidance, none of these were in relation to shopping or supermarket visits.

    Among those to chastise the post was Pip Moss, who wrote: ‘The law doesn’t forbid the purchase of non-essential items when also shopping for essentials such as food.

    ‘Your officers time could be better spent, and over-stepping the law like this harms public confidence in the police.’

    Another user added: ‘One day you’re going to have to look back on all this and tell people that in the midst of crisis you chose to spend your time patrolling around looking to enforce laws that didn’t exist.’  

    The M5 motorway in Worcester, Worcestershire, which is normally busy during the Easter bank holiday getaway, is quiet as the UK continues in lockdown to reduce the spread of coronavirus


    Durham Police were castigated by social media users after seemingly suggesting that people should not be using their bicycles to exercise this weekend, in contrary to current government advice 

    Speaking yesterday, Northamptonshire Police said the ‘three-week grace period is over’ and threatened that they may even soon start ‘checking the items in baskets and trolleys’.

    Its Chief Constable Nick Adderley said: ‘We will not at this stage be starting to marshal supermarkets and checking the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it’s a legitimate and necessary item. 

    ‘But again, be under no illusion, if people do not heed the warnings, and the pleas that I’m making, we will start to do that.’

    And he added: ‘If things don’t improve, and we don’t get the compliance we would expect, then the next stage will be road blocks and it will be stopping people to ask why they are going, where they’re going.’ 

    But asked about the prospect of police officers potentially checking shopping trolleys, Ms Patel told TalkRADIO: ‘That is not appropriate, let me be clear on that… that is not the guidance.’

    Officers in Windermere, Cumbria, are already sending people in camper vans home, while locals in St Ives, Cornwall, blocked some roads to protect vulnerable residents.  

    A police officer walks up and down Brighton beach asking people to move on during the coronavirus lockdown this Good Friday

    A shopper makes her way home after picking up some paint today. Discount website Vouchercodes said it had seen a 445 per cent increase in the search for DIY equipment in the week-long lead up to the Easter weekend

    The Cotswold village of Bibury, usually teeming with holidaymakers during the Easter weekend, is deserted after it was closed to visitors today

    Police have also created online forms for people to report potential breaches of the lockdown which was imposed on March 23 to slow the spread of the deadly disease.

    Britons load-up for lockdown weekend: Sales of Easter eggs, wine, barbecues and paddling pools soar by up to 4,000% 

    Sales of paddling pools and barbecues have skyrocketed in the lead up to the Easter weekend as Brits prepare for a sun-drenched lockdown in the back garden after police threatened to stomp out all non-essential travel.

    Sunny forecasts for the weekend has seen sun loungers and parasols sell out on online websites, as officers warned they would go through peoples’ shopping for ‘non-essential items’ if they dared to venture outside to shop.

    Amazon reported a 4,000 per cent rise in the sale of paddling pools in the last 24 hours, while Waitrose saw a threefold increase in the sale of yoga equipment as Brits 

    Brits are also continuing to load up on food and drink, with Hotel Chocolat revealing that it had seen a 400 per cent increase in online orders for Easter eggs, while Thorntons had seen a similarly ‘dramatic increase’.  

    Alcohol sales are still rising, too, with wine sales in supermarkets and corner shops jumping up by 22 per cent in March, according to consumer analysts Kantar.

    Discount website Vouchercodes said it had seen a 445 per cent increase in the search for DIY equipment in the week-long lead up to the Easter weekend, as well as a 565 per cent rise in searches for gardening equipment.

     

    Merseyside Police said it will begin randomly stopping cars in its area to ensure drivers are sticking to lockdown rules ahead of the weekend. 

    Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has not been seen or heard in public since March 23, said in an unexpected radio interview this evening that police must not act in a ‘heavy-handed’ manner during the coronavirus lockdown. 

    She also said the government will ‘absolutely not’ be increasing police powers amid concerns about the way in which some officers have interpreted government guidance on breaking up groups and stopping journeys.

    Ms Patel’s intervention came as: 

    • England, Scotland and Wales recorded 887 more coronavirus deaths yesterday, taking Britain’s total to 7,984 as the coronavirus crisis continues;
    • Downing Street said Britain was at a ‘critical juncture’ in the battle to curb the spread of the disease;
    • The Government made clear there can be no early lifting of the strict social distancing rules, urging the public to ‘stick with it’;
    • Boris Johnson’s condition is ‘continuing to improve’ after a third night in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London where he is being treated for coronavirus.

    At least five chief constables are calling for the introduction of more stringent restrictions and clearer rules – including laws to enforce limiting exercise to a one-hour period outdoors after some people flouted it to sunbathe in parks or beaches.

    Mr Adderley said forces are ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ when it comes to implementing the lockdown rules, and said the government guidance ‘could be even clearer’. 

    Reacting to the trolley claims made by Mr Adderley, ex-justice secretary David Gauke said they were ‘wholly inappropriate’ and reveal ‘worrying and unacceptable authoritarian instincts.’ 

    Civil liberties campaigners were also furious, with Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo stating the ‘suggestion of police rummaging through people’s shopping trolleys is outrageous’ as she questioned what the legal basis would be for doing so.

    Mr Adderley later attempted to clarify his remarks, tweeting: ‘To be clear on the shopping trolley issue: This is about essential and necessary journeys, not what’s in your trolley. I have been clear that we will not be judge and jury on what is an essential item or not, but we may now probe the purpose of the journey.’

    Sales of gardening and DIY items have skyrocketed (shown today) as Brits prepare for a sun-drenched lockdown in the back garden after police threatened to stomp out all non-essential travel

    A busy Richmond riverside is pictured today as people enjoy their daily allowance of exercise ahead of a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in Britain

    The police have the power to issue fines to people who gather in groups during the lockdown. People are only supposed to go outside for food, medicine, to get to work, or for exercise once a day. 

    The emergency Coronavirus Act gave police powers to impose restrictions on ‘events and gatherings’ and it has been suggested that this could be used by forces in an attempt to justify road blocks.  

    However, the law does not include any provision that could force people to require prior permission, show paperwork, or demonstrate reasonable cause for leaving their home.

    Police forces in Cambridgeshire, London, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Kent and Avon and Somerset have all brought in online services for the public to report potential breaches of the lockdown rules. 

    The announcement on the online forms from Cambridgeshire Constabulary faced some criticism online, with one person describing it as a ‘revolting’ idea.

    But a spokesman for the force urged people to only use the form ‘if there is a significant issue or breach’.

    Police (shown in central London today) have been accused of being over-zealous in their approach as they threatened to set up road blocks to grill motorists on why they were not at home, causing #policestateUK to trend on Twitter

    Police forces in beauty spots across Britain have reported seeing visitors travel long distances from their homes to enjoy the recent warm weather.

    People travelled far to spend time in Cumbria last weekend, while Malham Cove in North Yorkshire had visitors from Bradford, Leeds and Oldham – which is more than 50 miles away. 

    In the South West, Chief Superintendent Ian Drummond-Smith, police commander for Cornwall, warned non-residents to stay away from the area.

    He said: ‘Our officers will be patrolling this weekend, firstly on the M5 and A30 in an attempt to prevent visitors from entering the force area, and then locally to enforce the restrictions.

    ‘We will do so in a fair and balanced manner, but travelling down to the West Country is a serious breach of these restrictions and those doing so can expect to receive a fine.’

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