Saturday, 24 Oct 2020

‘Close the beaches!’ Fury after crowds flock to coast and ignore social distancing – poll

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Readers voted in’s online poll on whether beaches should be closed following a warning by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that the Government has the power to do so. Some 79 percent said yes, while just 21 percent replied no.

Commenting on the poll, one reader said: “These people are ignorant ignoring the warnings, they are selfish and a danger to us all, close the beaches, they are acting as if lockdown is a Government paid holiday. It’s not.”

Another wrote: “Of course they should be closed but Hancock is the one whose vote matters and he would probably vote ‘don’t know’.”

A third added: “Common sense and beach covidiots do not go hand in hand unfortunately.”

Another commented: “The shocking pictures showing so many at Bournemouth indicate just how selfish people can be.I hate lockdown, but it is a necessary evil that we must all endure until this wretched virus is beaten.”

But one said: “I voted no. The local authorities in these areas should have had better arrangements in place ie. those from outside the area need to get a permit to enter the area (parking etc) the beach laid out with distancing in preparation for this weather. Or close the beach which will harm the local economy. Their choice.”

Our poll comes after Mr Hancock warned the Government could close beaches if social distancing rules are breached.

Asked if he would consider shutting some beaches after busy scenes in Bournemouth, the Health Secretary told TalkRadio: “Well, we do have that power.

“I am reluctant to use it because people have had a pretty tough lockdown.

“Everybody should be able to enjoy the sunshine. The key is to do it with respect. Stay with your households. Stay a good distance from other households.

“Outside is safer than inside. So, you have got to respect the rules. Respect the fact that social distancing is still important.

“We do have those powers – and if we see a spike in the number of cases, then we will take action.”

A major incident was declared in Bournemouth after thousands headed to the coast to bask in the heatwave on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty later urged people to follow social disancing or risk a spike in coronavirus cases.

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.”

And Boris Johnson warned people against “taking liberties” with social distancing rules.

The Prime Minister said: “If you look at what’s happening elsewhere in the world where people have been coming out of lockdown, I’m afraid what you’re also seeing is people taking too many liberties with the guidance, mingling too much, not observing social distancing.

“So in some parts of the world – I won’t name them – you have got spikes, really serious spikes, in the instance of the disease, so it is crucial that people understand that on July 4 we get this right, we do this in a balanced way.” polled 9,738 people on June 26 from 9.25am to 6.20pm.

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