People flock to parks and beaches to enjoy sunshine despite COVID warning

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3 min read
People enjoy the sunshine at the Exeter Quay in Devon. (SWNS)
People enjoy the sunshine at the Exeter Quay in Devon. (SWNS)

Crowds have been pictured enjoying the sunshine despite warnings from the deputy chief medical officer the pandemic isn’t over.

People across the country enjoyed temperatures of up to 15C on Saturday, but some of the images taken may concern Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, who cautioned that the country should not yet “relax” in the battle against COVID-19.

Pictures showed significant crowds in areas such as Bournemouth, Devon and Brighton.

Current lockdown rules state people can exercise outside either by themselves, with the people they live with, with their support bubble if this is permitted or, when on their own, with one person from another household.

Watch: Jonathan Van-Tam has warned the public "do not wreck this now"

People enjoy the sunshine at the Exeter Quay in Devon. (Getty)
People enjoy the sunshine at the Exeter Quay in Devon. (Getty)

On Friday, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam told the public, “don’t wreck this now”, as he warned there were “some worrying signs that people are relaxing” in the coronavirus battle at “exactly the wrong time”.

His alert came after it emerged there had been a rise in COVID-19 cases in one in five local authorities in England.

He warned people who have already been vaccinated about the dangers of “taking their foot off the brake” and being tempted to break lockdown rules.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said those who had received a jab might be less inclined to stick to the rules unless the science behind transmission is explained to them.

In a recent paper, the group added that the success of the vaccine rollout may mean even those who have not had a dose may “perceive there is no longer a major risk to vulnerable people”.

Sage noted 20% of UK adults have received a first dose of vaccine while 16% believe they have recovered from the virus – a belief associated with perceptions of immunity.

It warned these figures may create the impression the threat has permanently receded, making it harder to stick to restrictions on seeing friends or family.

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People enjoy the sunshine on Bournemouth beach, Dorset. Picture date: Saturday February 27, 2021.
People on Bournemouth beach, Dorset. (PA)
People enjoy the sunshine on Bournemouth beach, Dorset. Picture date: Saturday February 27, 2021.
People enjoy the sunshine on Bournemouth beach, Dorset. (PA)

“As restrictions change, messaging should be careful to ensure that the importance of continued adherence to protective measures is well explained,” Sage said.

The group also warned it could create new problems for policing as more people may start to believe social distancing measures are illegitimate.

It said unless measures are either relaxed or their continued necessity explained, it could lead to “resentment and lower levels of compliance” with the law.

So far, police forces across the UK have been using an “engage, explain, encourage and enforce” strategy.

Boris Johnson set out a phased plan on Monday to end England’s COVID-19 lockdown, with schools returning on 8 March, pub beer gardens opening on 12 April and an end to all restrictions on June 21 if everything goes to plan.