Bournemouth beach left covered in rubbish and empty booze bottles after thousands swarm site sparking 'major incident'June 26, 2020
EMPTY cans, bottles, plastic bags and tossed away inflatables were abandoned on Bournemouth beach this morning, leaving the beauty spot in tatters.
Beach clean teams battled to clear the area after thousands of Brits squeezed onto the sand for the hottest day of the year yesterday, with authorities declaring the situation a "major incident".
Health Secretary Matt Hancock even threatened to shut beaches altogether if social distancing measures continue to be ignored.
Roads leading to the coast were gridlocked, cars were dumped at the roadside and tons of litter was left strewn across the popular resort.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said it had no choice but to declare a major incident and condemned the "irresponsible" behaviour of crowds, some of whom got involved in fights.
But beach-goers still left their rubbish behind, with waste collections including deck chairs, bins and boxes of food.
Seagulls surrounded the litter as they scavenged for left over spoils.
Speaking from Bournemouth beach this morning, Local MP Tobias Ellwood told BBC Breakfast: "This place was deluged and social distancing went out the window and that's why a major incident was declared, because the local authority and indeed the police couldn't cope."
"We need to learn from this and recognise that if we're going to be serious about tackling this pandemic then we need to be swifter in being able to provide support to local authorities who are unable to cope."
Hot spots like Brighton and Tynemouth were also packed yesterday, with beach-goers crammed in like sardines as police attempted to enforce social distancing.
Bins overflowed in Brighton while an old arm chair and tent were among the refuse in Tynemouth, north east of England.
When asked about crowds gathering on beaches, Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast: "We just have to recognise yesterday was the hottest day of the year, incredibly hot, a lot of people had the same idea, they all went to the beach, and yes of course those scenes at Bournemouth are a matter for concern."
'POWER TO CLOSE BEACHES'
Mr Hancock said the government had the power to close beaches if people ignored coronavirus rules.
In an interview with TalkRadio, Mr Hancock said: "We do have that power [to close beaches]. I am reluctant to use it because people have had a pretty tough lockdown and I want everybody to enjoy the sunshine.
"But the key is to do it with respect for the rules – stay with your household, stay a good distance from other households."But he added that if there was a spike in the number of coronavirus cases "then we will take action".Later, speaking to the Daily Mail he urged Brits: "We musn't throw it all away. Keep to the rules or we risk going backwards."
Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty urged people to follow social distancing rules in the hot weather or risk causing a spike in coronavirus.
He wrote on Twitter: "Covid-19 has gone down due to the efforts of everyone but is still in general circulation.
"If we do not follow social distancing guidance then cases will rise again.
"Naturally people will want to enjoy the sun but we need to do so in a way that is safe for all."
Last night, Downing Street warned the public that failure to adhere to social distancing on beaches could risk lockdown restrictions being reimposed.
They are due to be lifted on July 4.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: "The PM and the Government scientific and medical advisers have stressed the great importance of the public continuing to adhere to social distancing advice.
“It’s because of the public’s hard work that we’ve been able to bring the virus under control.
"If the rules don’t continue to be followed and the virus starts to spread exponentially again then we will look at having to reverse some of the easements that we have put in place.
"I don’t think anyone in the British public would want that to happen."
Two local Tory MPs branded the photos of packed Brits on the beach "obscene" and warned lives were being put in danger.
They called for extra police to be drafted in from other forces, tougher fines and even roadblocks to stop a repeat.
Council leader Vikki Slade said the resort was at breaking point with services "completely overstretched" by the sheer number of day-trippers.
She fumed: "We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 hours.
"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.
"We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response."
She had previously pleaded with sunbathers to stay away from the sweeping beach until social distancing rules are eased next Saturday.
A staggering 558 parking fines were issued in the area – the highest on record – as sunseekers struggled to find spaces and dumped their cars.
Dorset Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya said she had increased patrols along the beach – adding: "These are unprecedented times.
"The declaration of a major incident allows us to bring agencies together so we can take actions available to us to safeguard the public as much as possible.
"We are also reliant on people taking personal responsibility and strongly advise members of the public to think twice before heading to the area.
"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 services resources.
"We would therefore stress again that we are asking people to please stay away from the area."
Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said he had been told by the police that about 500,000 visitors were in Dorset.
Temperatures soared to 33.4C at Heathrow Airport in west London on Thursday, making it the hottest day of the year so far.
In Brighton, police had to break up a fight on the promenade. The beach at Brighton was also packed with sun-seeking Brits.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Friday the government's plans for air bridges, which will allow Britons to go on holiday to certain destinations without needing to quarantine for 14 days on their return, the Telegraph reported.
The first of these air bridges will allow holidaymakers to travel to "low-risk" European destinations, including France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany, from July 4.
But they added that now incidence is lower, they can look at ways to safely provide testing "in the heart of communities", in a way that is more easy and accessible to people.
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