Health Secretary Matt Hancock threatens to CLOSE beaches and re-lockdown local areas after 'major incident' is declared in Bournemouth
Britain's beaches could be closed to prevent the resurgence of coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned as the heatwave triggered a frenzied rush to the seaside which led to 'irresponsible and selfish' scenes.
In Bournemouth, a major incident was declared after 500,000 visitors overwhelmed Dorset, with the authorities forced into an 'emergency response' after they clogged up roads and dumped tons of litter on beaches.
Coastal beauty spots around the country saw drunken fights amid blatant flouting of social distancing rules by crowds of young revellers despite the country still being in lockdown to fight the spread of Covid-19.
It came ahead of a crucial week for the Government, which has announced lockdown measures will be eased significantly on July 4 to boost the struggling economy. Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that ministers would 'trust in the common sense ' of the British public when rules are eased.
Families visiting some beaches did attempt to follow social distancing rules – but that proved impossible in Bournemouth, where the area was overrun for the second day running.
Car parks were full by 9am and hundreds parked illegally on pavements and double yellow lines. Traffic wardens issued a record 558 parking fines.
An astonishing 33 tons of litter, including human waste, was removed from the stretch of Dorset coast yesterday. Some illegally camped on the beach, including at upmarket Sandbanks, and used it as a toilet.
Detectives revealed the chaos caused by a 'significant volume of people heading to one area', where some people were so eager to get a good spot that they camped overnight on the beach. Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said services were 'completely overstretched' as huge crowds of visitors defied advice to stay away.
Incidents of anti-social behaviour included drunken fights and staff manning road barriers to turn motorists away from full car parks further along the coast at Lulworth Cove were sworn and spat at.
By yesterday afternoon the situation was so serious that council leader Vikki Slade declared a 'major incident'.
She said she was 'absolutely appalled' at the beach scenes, adding: 'The irresponsible behaviour and actions of so many people is just shocking and our services are stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe.'
Tobias Ellwood, the Tory MP for Bournemouth East, was told by police there were 500,000 visitors in Dorset yesterday. He said: 'These are selfish people who are threatening to prolong the pandemic and also litter our beautiful beaches.'
The beach was also busy along the coast at Brighton, where hundreds of youths gathered on an area of green yesterday evening, chanting at police attempting to move them on. Other seaside flashpoints included police being called to a 'large group of people fighting' at the beach in Exmouth, Devon, the same evening.
In Plymouth, police were out in force around the waterfront after heatwave-related 'unacceptable behaviour' by large groups of people.
And in Southend-on-Sea in Essex a seafront brawl and other incidents of violence prompted deputy council leader Ron Woodley to call for the Army to reinforce police to regain control of the streets.Linkback: https://staticforum.co.uk/index.php/topic,598.msg1188.html#msg1188