Yes, crowds ignored social distancing, flocked to south England beaches

Crowds of people ignored Covid-19 social distancing rules by visiting beaches in Bournemouth, a coastal town in southern England, according to an article on the South African site Eyewitness News.

“Visitors arrived in very large numbers in a spell of hot weather, resulting in gridlock on the roads, illegal overnight camping, excessive waste, anti-social behaviour, and alcohol-fuelled fights,” the 26 June 2020 article says. 

It shows a photo of people relaxing and swimming on a beach next to a pier in Bournemouth, credited to news agency AFP and dated 25 June.

Facebook has flagged the article as possibly false, but it’s correct. 

‘Irresponsible behaviour shocking’

England introduced restrictions to curb the spread of the new coronavirus in March 2020. Some have since been relaxed, but people are still not allowed to gather outdoors in groups of more than six. 

Yet thousands of people ignored the rule and descended on Bournemouth’s beaches, the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council said on 25 June

“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,” Vikki Slade, council leader, was quoted as saying

In response to “widespread problems” caused by the large number of visitors, 558 parking fines were issued, 33 tonnes of waste were removed from the coastline and overnight campers were evicted.  

Since declaring it a “major incident”, the council has been working with the police and others to avoid another influx of visitors. – Africa Check


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