Much of the UK is set to see blue skies, sunshine and soaring temperatures this week, as the government was forced to issue a fresh warning to observe lockdown rules and stay indoors despite the balmy conditions.
Some parts of Britain could see highs of 24C later this week – and the dry, sunny spell should hold over the Easter weekend.
There are fears the warm spring weather could encourage more people to gather in public spaces unnecessarily and flout social distancing measures.
Monday will see a cooler start to the week, with highs of 18C expected after rain clears eastwards across most of the country.
Tuesday will turn warmer, before rising to highs of 23C or 24C on Wednesday and Thursday in the southeast, according to the Met Office.
“The heat is really going to build in the middle of the week,” Met Office meteorologist Bonnie Diamond told The Independent. “There will be generally settled conditions, and there will be plenty of sunshine in England and Wales.”
“Easter weekend won’t be quite as warm and will be more unsettled, with the high pressure breaking down … bringing spells of rain and stronger wind.”
The west coast of Scotland and Northern Ireland will continue to be hit by more rain on Monday and could even see some coastal gales on Tuesday, before the conditions ease and settle on Wednesday.
Sunday saw the warmest weather of the year so far – with London and parts of north Wales experiencing highs of 22C. Police were forced to clear people sunbathing in parks and beaches in several parts of the country.
London’s Lambeth Council closed Brockwell Park after police found too many people gathered in large groups. Brighton & Hove City Council warned people to stay away from promenades, saying residents were still “using the seafront to meet up with friends”.
If people did not follow the rules – which allow people to walk, run or cycle outdoors once a day but not sunbathe – health secretary Matt Hancock said the government would have to ban exercise of all forms outside the home during the coronavirus outbreak.
Too many people are on the seafront making social distancing impossible.
Too many people are using the seafront to meet up with friends.
We know it's hard being inside and not seeing friends and family but.. pic.twitter.com/ki3QmUlu2V— Brighton & Hove City Council (@BrightonHoveCC)April 4, 2020
“I don’t want to have to take away exercise as a reason to leave home ... if too many people are not following the rules,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr.
Hancock said it was “unbelievable” to see a small minority flouting the government’s advice to maintain social distancing.
“At the moment the vast majority of people are [observing the rules]. But people should not break the rules because that would mean that the virus spreads more and we then might have to take further action.”