Coronavirus: People visit beaches and beauty spots in England but predicted surge does not materialise

·3-min read
Whitley Bay beach as people are urged not to flock to coastal towns and mational parks across England during the warm weather. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Whitley Bay beach was busier on Saturday (Picture: Getty)

People have visited beaches and other beauty spots but the predicted surge of people after lockdown restrictions were eased has not materialised.

A poll from the RAC predicted as many as 15 million people would head to picturesque locations this weekend following a relaxation in rules which allowed them to travel further from their homes.

But there wasn’t a huge increase, with road traffic rising between 3% and 4% compared to last Saturday.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: "Most are choosing to stay very local indeed or even not getting in the car in the first place, which bodes well for control of the coronavirus."

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People observe social distancing on the beach  in Brighton, southern England, on May 16, 2020, following an easing of lockdown rules in England during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - People are being asked to "think carefully" before visiting national parks and beaches on the first weekend since coronavirus lockdown measures were partially eased in England. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
People observe social distancing on the beach in Brighton (Picture: Getty)

Since Wednesday, a slight relaxation of restrictions in England means people are no longer limited to one opportunity to exercise outdoors each day.

They can also drive to beaches and countryside beauty spots in England, alone or with members of the same household, and can picnic, sunbathe and relax in public spaces.

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The Peak District National Park said the Langsett area at the north-eastern edge of the park was “extremely busy” on Saturday morning, making social distancing difficult.

On Twitter, park bosses in the Peak District said: “This area [Langsett] is reported to be extremely busy with car parks currently full and social distancing difficult.

“Please don’t travel to the area or park outside of designated bays.”

Police stopped vehicles on the A23 road between London and Brighton to ask them about their journeys.

The Yorkshire Dales introduced a traffic light system to let visitors know how busy its car parks are in ten different locations.

By Saturday afternoon, its Malham car park, which has 140 spaces, was marked red to indicate it was full, while other locations were marked amber to show they were filling up fast.

In Brighton, the local council is asking people to “stay away” from its sea-front.

Carmen Appich, chairwoman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee, said: “If thousands of people travel to our city on a sunny day and don’t or are unable to maintain safe physical distancing because of overcrowding, this increases the risk of a Covid outbreak and puts everyone at risk.”

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LONDON, ENGLAND- MAY 16: Members of the public relax in St James's Park on May 16, 2020 in London, England . The prime minister announced the general contours of a phased exit from the current lockdown, adopted nearly two months ago in an effort curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Members of the public relax in St James's Park (Picture: Getty)

Meanwhile, authorities in Wales have been reminding the public that lockdown measures are different there and people should avoid all non-essential travel.

On Thursday, Cleveland Police and North Yorkshire Police issued statements alongside the North York Moors National Park Authority asking the public to avoid large gatherings and use open spaces near their homes.

The park authority is carrying out a phased reopening of some car parks and public toilets but warned most facilities will be closed.

Drivers are asked to “go elsewhere” if they arrive to find a lot of parked cars and people at a particular location.

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