UK local government declared “major incident” as thousands ignore social distancing to flock to beach

Story By: Helene Fung, Picture Courtesy: Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council

Thousands of people have ignored social distancing requirements and flocked to the beach at the beachside town of Bournemouth, causing the local council to declare a “major incident”, and urged people to leave the town.

This happened on Thursday (local time), on the second day of a heat wave, with temperatures soaring to 33 degrees Celsius.

The Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council had to deal with not only large gatherings at the beach presenting a coronavirus transmission risk, but also illegal traffic obstructing traffic, illegal overnight camping, illegal littering at the beach, and also alcohol-fuelled brawls. Cleaners were abused when they tried to empty overflowing rubbish bins – totalling 33 tonnes of waste.

“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,” said Council Leader Vikki Slade.

A coordinated emergency response includes extra police patrols and parking enforcement officers, security to protect cleaners and signage on approaching roads trying to discourage people from entering.

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