The country’s beaches and parks were packed on the hottest March day in 53 years.
This happened a day after groups of no more than six were allowed to meet outside. Secretary at Heath Matt Hancock said: “We’ve come this far – don’t blow it up now. ”
Beaches and parks were packed today as the hottest March day in 53 years came right after chilling out.
Crowds took advantage of the lifting of the ‘stay at home’ order in England, as the relaxed lockdown restrictions meant groups of six or two households could socialize outside.
Temperatures rose above 24C in parts of the country as the public made the most of their new freedoms.
But the public has been warned to stick to social distancing rules over fears that too much relaxation could lead to another spike in Covid infections.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “Let’s enjoy the sun, but let’s be safe.
“We’ve come this far, don’t blow it up now.”
Ministers fear that after months of severe restrictions, people will struggle to follow the rules as the country slowly emerges from lockdown.
Infectious disease expert Dr Bharat Pankhania from the University of Exeter School of Medicine has warned the public to play by the rules.
“People have been kept in their homes for a very long time and of course there is a buildup of frustration,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
“The phrase ‘slippery slope’ is very apt, especially when helped by alcohol because what happens when you have a drink … you let your guard down.”
Hundreds of people basked in the sun in Essex, along the south coast and in Devon and Cornwall as a mini heat wave hit southern England.
But many parks and beaches were also crowded in northern England and Wales, before the weather got worse later this week.
Tourism chiefs have called for calm as only day trips are allowed until the rules are relaxed again to allow overnight stays in self-catering accommodation on April 12.
Sally Everton, director of Visit Devon, said the public should only visit the county when it is “safe and legal” to do so.
She said: “On the A30 I only saw cars with surfboards on the roofs. Either they’re going to wax or maintain their surfboards, or they’re looking for waves.
“I’m pretty disappointed because people are going to break the law. What we need is a government enforcement notice stating that while people can travel, they should stay local and minimize travel.
Malcolm Bell, of Visit Cornwall, asked people to “put their dreams of Cornwall on hold a little longer” until they can legally stay overnight.
“The only thing you are allowed to do are day trips. When you look at the Cornwall location, we don’t expect anyone to travel longer than an hour or more on a day trip, ”he said.
“We would love to see more people later in the year – and in the not too distant future – but for now, please explore your place of residence within an hour or so.”
Jill Hague, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, added: “As was the case last year, just follow the directions. We have done a great job collectively as a country and it’s great to see the vaccine roll out so successfully.
Boris Johnson urged Britons to remain cautious as the easing of lockdown measures in England coincides with the “unusually warm” period of weather.
Mr Johnson acknowledged that Monday was a ‘big day’ for many people as they were able to reunite with friends and family for the first time in weeks.
The prime minister said he hoped people would take advantage of the “good weather” to play sports or exercise, but warned the country should still “proceed with caution”.
The lifting of some restrictions has seen golfers return to the fairways, swimmers diving in outdoor pools and the sea, and impromptu football games in the parks.
Hundreds of people flocked to the beach at Barry Island in South Wales as temperatures soared.
In Wales, the order to ‘stay local’ ended on Saturday and people were allowed to stay in self-contained holiday homes.
Police were forced to ban alcohol in Nottingham after large crowds gathered in a city park as lockdown restrictions were relaxed.
Social media images captured a scuffle, with dozens of people drinking and ignoring social distancing rules and leaving behind large amounts of trash at Nottingham Arboretum.
The newsletter is sent out twice daily with the latest news from UK and world politics, as well as leading opinions and analysis.
You can register here.
The scenes have led the Nottingham City Council chief to call on everyone to take personal responsibility for obeying the rules as they are relaxed.
Councilor David Mellen said: “We have all made sacrifices over the past year to protect each other.
“More than 600 people in the region have died from the virus. We owe it to their families, to each other and to frontline workers not to jeopardize the progress we have made in reducing the spread of Covid by acting so thoughtless and recklessly.
“The roadmap is a prudent way out of this terrible situation and we must all strictly adhere to its rules.”
Hundreds of people gathered at Woodhouse Moor in Leeds, near one of the city’s main student quarters.
One resident said: “If I were their age I would probably do the same – but they take a bit of the mick by not social distancing.
“I hope there isn’t an outbreak, but they can’t be really upset if there is. It’s selfish of them, but understandable.
“I almost pray that the sun will go away until June.”
The mercury has reached 24 ° C in parts of the country, making the UK hotter than the holiday island of Ibiza.
Forecasters say today (Wednesday) will be even hotter – defying the March record of 25.6C set in 1968.
But by Easter Monday, a huge change in the weather will bring snow and sleet and reduce temperatures to as much as 15C.
Snow is expected to fall on higher ground in Scotland, the Lake District, the Pennines and North Wales.
The sleet and showers will hit the lower areas of the country.
By Monday, Cumbria – which is expected to see 18C today (Wednesday) – will have dropped to 5C, feeling like -2C due to a bitter wind chill.
London, which today recorded the highest temperature of 24.5 ° C at Kew Gardens, could drop as low as 9 ° C.
An Ipsos Mori poll suggested Britons are much less concerned about Covid than they were a month ago.
The survey found that 49% of people felt the pandemic was a big deal for the UK, up from 72% in February.
Another 56 people have died from Covid in the UK today and there have been 4,040 more cases.
Weekly Covid deaths in the UK fell below 1,000, the lowest level since October, according to figures.
More than 30 million people have now received their first dose of the vaccine, while 3.8 million have received both injections.