Coronavirus: People seen flouting lockdown by sunbathing and going for picnics, prompting police warning

Conrad Duncan
A police officer moves a member of the public off Brighton beach on April 04, 2020: Getty Images

Police forces have urged the public to stay at home and follow the government’s coronavirus lockdown after people were pictured sunbathing and enjoying picnics outside on Saturday.

The British public have been given strict instructions to not leave their homes this weekend, despite warm weather across the country, to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Under lockdown measures imposed by prime minister Boris Johnson in March, people are only supposed to go outside for essential trips, such as buying food or medicine, as well as one form of exercise a day.

However, images posted on Twitter showed crowds of people in London Fields and Battersea Park in the capital, with some seen sunbathing and others on hire bikes.

In the North East, surfers were pictured on the beach at Tynemouth, while in Brighton, the local council warned that people were making “social distancing impossible” by visiting the beach.

“Too many people are on the seafront making social distancing impossible,” Brighton and Hove Council tweeted on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police warned Londoners to stay at home despite the “glorious” weather outside.

“These guidelines are not optional, despite the temptation of the sun,” the police force said.

“They are in place to protect, prevent [cases] and ultimately save lives.”

Highbury East Police in north London said they had to disperse “around 150 people” from Highbury Fields park and stressed sunbathing was not an essential reason to leave home.

“We know it's a beautiful day. We understand being cooped up is difficult, but we don't save lives and protect the NHS by having a picnic,” MPS Brent in northwest London wrote on Twitter.

The requests came as Michael Gove, the cabinet secretary, said there was evidence to suggest some young people were not as compliant with social distancing as older people.

“There has been evidence that for some young people, there has been a lower level of compliance,” Mr Gove said on Saturday.

“It may be that young people feel that they are less likely to be affected and less likely to be infected.”

Mr Gove urged people to consider the current pressure on the NHS and ask themselves: “How am I helping in this shared national effort?”

“The sun might be out, but that does not mean you should be out,” Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director, added.

“It's the lives and the health of all of us, our friends, our relatives, your friends, your relatives, that depend upon us following these instructions.”

Earlier on Saturday, second homeowners were told to keep away from their holiday properties as police forces warned they would issue fines to anyone making nonessential journeys this weekend.

Gloucestershire Police said officers would stop people who looked like they might be heading away for a few days.

Additional reporting by PA

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