Alcohol banned in Nottingham parks as lockdown eases and UK basks in spring sunshine

UK sees hottest March day since 1968 as warm weather coincides with broadening of social liberties confined by Covid

Vincent Wood
Tuesday 30 March 2021 21:05 BST
UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

People hoping to enjoy a drink in Nottingham’s parks during were met by a heavy police presence on Tuesday as officers implemented an alcohol ban on the hottest March day for decades.

Britain basked in the sun as temperatures soared to levels not seen since 1968 – with Kew Gardens in London recording highs of 24.5C.

However, authorities have urged caution to mitigate the twin effects of warm weather and the easing of coronavirus rules that now allow groups of up to six people to meet outdoors. “Let’s enjoy the sun but let’s do it safely. We have come so far, don’t blow it now,” Matt Hancock, the health secretary, tweeted.

Nottingham City Council urged residents to take responsibility for the safety of those around them after a dispersal order was put in place on Monday to break up large crowds attending a city park.

Despite the marginal change in restrictions, footage posted to social media showed dozens of people ignoring social distancing rules, drinking and engaging in a brawl at the Nottingham Arboretum.

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Local councillor David Mellen said a selfish minority had abused the easing of restrictions, adding: “We have all made sacrifices over the last year to keep each other safe. Over 600 local people have died due to the virus.

“We owe it to their families, to each other and to frontline workers not to jeopardise the strides we have made towards reducing the spread of Covid by acting so thoughtlessly and recklessly.”

Assistant chief constable Steve Cooper, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “While we can of course understand people’s desire to want to be out in the sun and enjoying these mild temperatures we are currently experiencing, the government and our health colleagues remain extremely cautious and advise that people continue to minimise social contact.”

Boris Johnson has said it is vital the public be “sensible” about sticking to government advice.

Asked if he could rule out another lockdown, the prime minister told reporters on Monday: “Yes, if everybody continues to obey the guidance with sufficient caution and we continue to work together to keep the virus under control and get it down in the way that we have

“And yes, if the vaccine rollout continues and the vaccines continue to be as effective as it looks as though they are. Those are the two conditions that would have to be to be satisfied.”

Easing of lockdown rules combined with pleasant weather have been consistently accompanied by displays of mass attendance at outdoor beauty spots, with beaches a particular draw prompting concern around images showing hundreds of visitors.

However, in February Prof Mark Woolhouse – an epidemiologist on the government’s Sage committee – told MPs there was “very little evidence of outdoor transmission” from coronavirus in relation to such incidents.

He told the Commons science and technology committee at the time: “There was evidence going back to March and April that the virus is not transmitted well outdoors. There’s been very, very little evidence that any transmission outdoors is happening in the UK.”

The government said a further 56 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 126,670.

Separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies show there have now been 150,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The UK has administered 30,680,948 first doses of a coronavirus vaccine, and 3,838,010 follow-up jabs.

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