Plenty of people were out enjoying the sunshine on Saturday on the warmest
weekend of the last six months – despite government pleas to stay home.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock were among those who urged the public not to go outdoors this weekend after warmer weather was forecast, with 21C (69.8F) possible on Sunday.

But pictures from parks and beaches across the UK seemed to suggest some just could not resist the temptation to leave their homes on Saturday, with blue skies above much of the country.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: People are seen by the lake in Regents Park on April 04, 2020 in London, England. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 60,000 lives and infecting over 1 million people. (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)
Image: People by the lake in Regent’s Park on Saturday
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: A man reads by the lake in Regents Park on April 04, 2020 in London, England. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 60,000 lives and infecting over 1 million people. (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)
Image: This man was keeping to himself in Regent’s Park

And while most at least appeared to be keeping their distance from others, not everybody appeared to be respecting official guidance regarding when people should be going outside.

The government says people should not be leaving the house unless their work requires them to do so, to shop for essential supplies such as food, to exercise once a day, or for health reasons.

Mr Hancock said on Friday: “This is not advice, these are instructions.”

But gatherings, as well as people spotted sunbathing, having picnics and using hire bikes, were seen in Regent’s Park, London Fields, Battersea Park and other green spaces in London, with thousands said to have flouted advice at one park in the south of the capital.

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SOUTHEND ON SEA, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Cyclists and a couple with their dog enjoy the sun along the seafront on April 04, 2020 in southend on Sea, England. Southend Seafront parking has been suspended in effort to deter visitors to the seafront this weekend as the weather improves and ahead of the coming Bank Holiday weekend. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 50,000 lives and infecting over 1 million people. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty
Image: Cyclists and a couple with their dog enjoy the sun along the seafront in Southend

Brockwell Park in Lambeth said it will be closed on Sunday because so many visitors had ignored social distancing.

On Twitter, Lambeth Council said: “Despite clear advice, over 3,000 people spent today in Brockwell Park, many of them sunbathing or in large groups. This is unacceptable.”

The council later added: “We are sorry we’ve had to take this decision. This wouldn’t need to happen if people followed the clear instructions from the government.

“We are doing this for the wider safety of the public, a minority of people have not followed the guidance and so regrettably we have had to act.”

In the North East, surfers were pictured on the beach at Tynemouth.

In Sussex, police tweeted on Saturday evening: “Thank you to everyone that stayed away from beauty spots and beaches today. We know it isn’t easy. We are disappointed that two people will be summonsed to attend court after breaching the Coronavirus Act 2020 by having a BBQ on #Hove beach.”

Police officers monitor as people take their daily exercise in Greenwich Park in south London on April 4, 2020, as life continues in the city during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Britain on Friday reported a record 684 new COVID-19 deaths in its daily update, as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus climbed by 4,450 on the previous 24 hours. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Police officers were on patrol in Greenwich Park

The social distancing measures were a focus of the government’s daily coronavirus news briefing on Saturday.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the increasing death toll from COVID-19, which has risen by 708, shows that everyone must stick to the guidelines.

Mr Gove said there was evidence of a “lower level of compliance” among some young people, who may not have received the appropriate messaging or feel as though they are less likely to be affected by the disease.

That is despite two coronavirus patients to have died in the UK this week being aged just five and 13.

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Mr Gove urged people “to think of those on the frontline and the sacrifices they’re making for us”, as he revealed that seven healthcare professions have now died after contracting the virus.

He said: “Whatever the temptations this weekend, please don’t go outside to visit the lakes, the beaches, the countryside… take pride instead in keeping your own families and communities safe.”

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

Michael Gove has urged people not to go outside.
‘Please don’t go outside this weekend’ – Gove

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.

Met Office meteorologist Steven Keates said Sunday will be “a beautiful spring day” with “blue skies and sunshine for much of the day for much of the UK”.

He predicted 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”.

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