Weather News

'Major incident' declared as thousands flock to UK beach during heatwave, sparking COVID-19 fears

Friday June 26, 2020 - 08:30 EST

An English beach has declared a "major incident" after thousands of people flocked there during Britain's hottest day of the year, ignoring public health warnings over coronavirus.

Local authorities in the popular beachside town of Bournemouth have urged people to leave the town after it became "stretched to the absolute hilt" during a second day of a heatwave as temperatures hit 33C.

Fears over the spread of coronavirus between people packed on the beach, as well as gridlocked roads, illegal overnight camping, rubbish left on beaches and alcohol-fuelled fights forced Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council to act.

"We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 hours," Council Leader Vikki Slade said in a statement.

"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."

Most of the UK, which has a coronavirus death toll of more than 43,000 people, has been in a strict lockdown with social distancing measures since March 23, but .

With , many people have been heading to parks and beaches to meet friends and drink alcohol, in some cases ignoring advice to remain two metres apart.

In Bournemouth, roads were obstructed by illegal parking and work crews were abused as they attempted to empty overflowing bins. In total 33 tonnes of waste had to be removed from the stretch of coastline in and around the town on Thursday morning.

The emergency response will involve extra police patrols, security to protect rubbish collectors, additional parking enforcement, evictions of unauthorised campers and signage on approach roads warning people not to come.

"We strongly advise members of the public to think twice before heading to the area," Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya of Dorset Police said.

"Clearly we are still in a public health crisis and such a significant volume of people heading to one area places a further strain on emergency service resources."



© ABC 2020

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News
News Limited

Display Your Local Weather

Weather News

Foggy morning in South Australia

15:47 EST

Widespread fog was covering parts of South Australia on Tuesday morning, with visibility reduced below 100 metres at Adelaide Airport.

AgQuip field days cancelled, exhibitors, local economy to lose millions

13:26 EST

One of Australia's biggest agricultural events, the AgQuip field days, has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.