Scores of Londoners have been pictured in parks basking in the weekend sunshine despite Government orders to stay at home to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly urged the country not to give in to the “fine weather” to help save lives during the pandemic.
“Don’t be tempted to meet friends at the park this weekend,” he tweeted on Saturday morning. “Do your bit to protect the NHS and save lives by staying at home.”
But photos of both Battersea and Greenwich park show people laying down in the sunshine, even though sunbathing is not listed among “essential” activities.
Police officers have been pictured speaking to groups lounging on the grass or sitting at park benches.
Under the UK lockdown, Brits can only leave the house if they are key workers travelling to their jobs, shopping or health essentials, or for exercise once a day.
Although walking is allowed under daily exercise if at least two meters away from others, scores of people were seen breaking lockdown rules by laying down in parks.© Provided by Evening Standard People pictured lying in the sun in Greenwich Park (REUTERS)
Pictures also emerged on Saturday of a large group of cyclists in London exercising close together, also defying Government advice.
Forces across the country have the power to issue fines and punishments if they see people making non-essential journeys this weekend, including to beaches and other outdoor hotspots.
Met Police has been approached for details on whether fines have been issued.
On Friday, chief nursing officer Ruth May urged Brits to think of the NHS staff who have died of Covid-19 when deciding whether to flout lockdown rules.
The warnings come two weeks after pictures emerged of overcrowded beauty spots and beaches across the UK, just days after the Prime Minister introduced the first social-distancing measures.© Provided by Evening Standard People are allowed out for a walk as exercise if they stay two meters apart (REUTERS)
The full-lockdown came hours later on Monday, March 23.
Authorities in Wales have closed beach-side car parks to deter people from “using the weather to treat what is a national crisis like a national holiday”.
Mark Thomas, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure at Swansea Council, said: “We absolutely cannot afford a repeat of the behaviour witnessed on previous occasions.”
Dorset Council has taken the same approach, and the council has closed seafront parking bays and stopped the RNLI patrol in an attempt to prevent people from gathering at the seaside.
One chief has said officers would “explain” and “encourage” people to stick to the rules, but would enforce with fines and punishments if people were not listening.© Provided by Evening Standard A police officer speaks with people in Greenwich Park (REUTERS)
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, from Devon and Cornwall Police, told BBC Breakfast: “When we come to enforcement, that really is a last resort because, in a way, if we come to enforcement, then everybody has failed to understand the significance of this endeavour.
“It’s not just visitors, even within my 4,000 square miles I’ve got my own population that really just want to jump in the car and travel.
“They want to go to the moors, they want to go to the beaches.”© Provided by Evening Standard People exercise along the seafront on Boscombe beach during Saturday’s sunshine (PA)
He described this weekend as “a time to remember the importance of stay at home and save lives”.
The senior officer added: “If a £60 ticket makes you do something, and 684 people dying yesterday didn’t, then I think you’ve got to take a good look at yourself as to whether you realise the seriousness and significance of where we are.”
One forecaster described Sunday as “a beautiful spring day” with “blue skies and sunshine for much of the day for much of the UK”.
Met Office meteorologist Steven Keates said “in other times of the year we would be saying it’s a good time to be out and about, but obviously that is not the advice at the moment”.
He predicted that some parts of the UK “could be seeing 20-21C”, which would be “the first time we’ve reached over 20 since October 1 last year.”