Boris Johnson yesterday set a ten-day target to deliver a virus tracing system that could allow the lockdown to be eased.
He said a 25,000-strong army of trackers had been recruited to identify the contacts of infected victims and prevent outbreaks.
The Government’s scientific advisers insist the system must be in place before any more restrictions are lifted. If the scheme is up and running in time some schools and shops could reopen as early as June 1.
Rules limiting social contact could also be relaxed at that point, with a decision due at the end of next week.
But the lockdown was put in jeopardy yesterday by thousands of sunseekers who flocked to beaches on the hottest day of the year.
Devon and Cornwall Police said roads in some resorts were gridlocked, despite pleas for families to stay away. ‘Any decision on the lockdown is conditional on advice that we can move forward without risking a second spike – we are not there yet,’ said a Whitehall source.
‘Hopefully the test-and-trace system will give people confidence in the measures we are taking.’ Just 637 hospital admissions for coronavirus were reported on Tuesday and no new cases at all in London for the day before.
That compares with around 1,000 a day at the peak of the pandemic. Experts cautioned that a lag in recording could see that revised upward however.
The death toll rose by 363 to 35,704 on Tuesday while tests hit a record 177,216. Mr Johnson told the Commons the tracing scheme was almost ready, despite problems with a government app that was meant to help the process.
‘We have growing confidence that we will have a test, track and trace operation that will be world-beating and yes, it will be in place by June 1,’ he said.
As Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden revealed plans to allow the UK tourism industry to reopen in July:
- Travel bosses warned a plan to quarantine arrivals would devastate UK businesses;
- Families of foreign NHS and care staff who have lost relatives to the virus were granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK;
- Justice Secretary Robert Buckland became the first senior figure to acknowledge the Government had prioritised the NHS over care homes;
- The PM hinted he might reshuffle his top team following criticism of the Government’s handling of the crisis; n Mr Dowden urged the BBC to think again about axeing free TV licences for over-75s;
- He also announced a ‘Cultural Renewal Taskforce’ to help get theatres, museums and other activities going again;
- A study by University College London found more than half of young adults are no longer sticking to the lockdown strictly;
- Officials plan to give NHS and social care staff antibody tests revealing whether they have had coronavirus;
- The Bank of England was reportedly considering using negative interest rates for the first time in its 324-year history;
- Contact tracing is a tried and trusted method for controlling epidemics and has been used successfully in South Korea to keep infections at very low levels.
Visitors flock to Durdle Door in Dorset on a scorching day with sunbathers packed together, despite social distancing rules
Boris Johnson yesterday set a ten-day target to deliver a virus tracing system that could allow the lockdown to be eased
It was the hottest day in the UK so far this year and the masses were out in force with deck chairs and towels on the beach. Sorrell Vince, 23 (left) from Northampton and Bethany Heatley from Preston enjoying the sun on Cullercoats Beach, Tynemouth
The lockdown was put in jeopardy yesterday by thousands of sunseekers who flocked to beaches (Tynemouth, right) and parks (St James’ in London) on the hottest day of the year
The UK Government abandoned it in the middle of March because of a lack of testing capacity. Mr Johnson said the army of trackers would be capable of tracing the contacts of up to 10,000 new cases a day. Anyone who contracts the virus will be asked to detail all those they have had recent contact with.
These people will then be advised to take a coronavirus test or self-isolate. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the failure to conduct tracing for ten weeks had left ‘a huge hole in our defences’.
Dame Angela McLean, the deputy chief scientific adviser, said on Tuesday that all the modelling for changes to the lockdown was based on a ‘highly effective track, trace and isolate system’ being in place.
Infections expert Professor Hugh Pennington said Mr Johnson’s pledge of ‘world-beating’ tracing was good news’ but added: ‘It’s taken a long time. As to world-beating, we’ve been beaten by quite a few other countries’.
Thousands of locked-down Britons crammed onto packed beaches to bask in 82F (28C) sunshine on the hottest day of the year so far yesterday with cars from all over the country causing gridlock in some places, to the fury of locals.
Devon and Cornwall Police said traffic was ‘exceptionally busy’, with officers reporting that every set of double yellow lines across a mile stretch of beach had been parked on as several car parks were closed to control numbers. There were reports some traffic wardens had even run out of tickets.
Saunton Sands beach car park, near Braunton in Devon, was described as ‘looking like August’, with nearby Woolacombe the site of huge, shocking queues of traffic.
One police officer tweeted: ‘Every double yellow line from Woolacombe to Morthoe is covered with cars and vans. Cars mounting pavements to get by whilst pedestrians try to cross the road. All the offences have been recorded and will be processed in due course.’
Richard Walden, 55, of Woolacombe, took a picture from his house showing gridlocked traffic snaking back as far as the eye could see, while other photos showed a huge line of traffic on the approach to the area.
Mr Walden said: ‘It is unbelievable the amount of thoughtless visitors we have had, parking illegally and causing the roads to be blocked and preventing use of the footpath. They blocked the whole footpath. There is no way a fire engine or ambulance could get down that. It is totally senseless.’
Sunbathers made the most of their new-found freedom following the easing of lockdown restrictions as London’s St James’s Park saw a high of 79.16F (26.2C) around 3pm on Tuesday – beating 2020’s previous top temperature of 78.8F (26C) set last month.
The sunshine is set to continue for most of the UK on Wednesday, with the mercury expected to hit 82F (28C), with rain and thunderstorms set to hit tomorrow.
Pictures of residents and tourists flocking to beaches and lying out their towels close to one another in Southend, Bournemouth, Margate and Brighton sparked backlash, with one man saying: ‘It’s madness, it’s like everyone’s forgotten about coronavirus.’
People enjoy the hot weather at a crowded Bournemouth beach in Dorset, as people flock to parks and beaches with coronavirus lockdown measures eased and temperatures set to hit 82F (28C)
People enjoy sunny weather on the hottest day of 2020 so far on the beach and promenade at the seaside in Weston-super-Mare
Hot sunny weather brought out large crowds to the beach in Portobello, Scotland today. Dancers from The Lion King UK Tour which was playing in Edinburgh before the lockdown, were among those having fun in the sun
Traffic on the approach to Woolacombe, Devon. Sun-seekers have been flocking to coastal hot-spots in the Westcountry in such numbers traffic wardens have reportedly run out of tickets
Devon and Cornwall police said that every double yellow line from Woolacombe to Morthoe is covered with cars and vans as sun-seekers descend on beaches amid the hottest day of the year so far
Southend beach was absolutely packed this afternoon as sun-worshipping Britons turned out to soak up the rays on what is predicted to be the hottest day of the year so far, according to the Met Office
Sorrell Vince, 23 (right) from Northampton and Bethany Heatley (left) from Preston enjoying the sun on Cullercoats Beach, Tynemouth, as people flock to parks and beaches today with lockdown measures eased
Roads and car parks were crammed full as parking restrictions were lifted several days ago and thousands of people flocked to Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset, on the hottest day of the year so far
Residents and tourists enjoy the warm weather hitting Kent as Britain is set for the hottest day of the year so far. Sun seekers flocked to Margate to soak up the rays today with surrounding roads packed with cars
The Althorp in Wandsworth Common, London saw people enjoying drinks on the Common opposite the pub, as a woman in PPE gear handed out pints
These three women enjoyed the sun as they lounged with drinks on Primrose Hill in London today, with sun-seekers all over the country taking advantage of Boris Johnson’s easing of restrictions
Primrose Hill was busy with sun-lovers on what was the hottest day of the year so far, though most appeared to maintain social distancing
These men picked up takeaway pints from the Althorp before enjoying the sunshine on Wandsworth Common this afternoon
People enjoy the sunshine in London Fields, north east London on May 20, 2020, with temperatures in the capital are expected to reach 82.4F (28C)
People soak up the rays at Bournemouth beach in Dorset, as Britons flock to parks and beaches as lockdown is eased
Today’s packed beaches are a stark contrast from last month. Bournemouth beach was deserted in this photo from April 26, despite the warm weather at the time
Hundreds of people took day trips to Southend as the temperatures hit 27 degree today after parking restrictions were lifted
A near empty beach on Southend seafront on March 23, the day the lockdown was announced. It is a stark contrast from today’s images
People queued up for more than half an hour at the Hot Rocks bar in Bournemouth, where they are selling takeaway beer and other drinks
The people queuing up for beer looked to be ignoring the two-metre requirement as they topped up on drinks amid the hot weather
Sunbathers enjoy the hot weather in Hyde Park, London, as easing of the coronavirus lockdown continues. There is a risk of thunderstorms on Thursday in east and south-east England
People lie back on towels as they sunbathe and enjoy the hot weather in Greenwich Park, London, on what is predicted to be the hottest day this year so far, according to the Met Office
People enjoy the sunshine in Broadway Market, Hackney, north east London today, on what was the hottest day of the year so far
Broadway Market in Hackney, north east London was packed today, as people flocked to parks and shops to enjoy the sunshine
People enjoy the sunshine in London Fields, north east London. Bikinis and shorts were the order of the day across the country
Drone images show the socially distanced crowd on the beach in Old Portsmouth and Southsea on the south coast on the hottest day of the year
Despite the beach attracting a huge number of sunbathers, they appeared to maintain social distancing as they took in the scorching weather
Car parks were crammed as sun worshippers visited Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset, as parking restrictions were lifted in many areas several days ago, while vehicles clogged up country lanes at a popular tourist spot in Devon, forcing police to block off roads and warn people to stay away.
But despite the dry weather, there is an outside chance the UK could see an isolated shower in East Anglia over the afternoon.
LBC’s Charlotte Sullivan tweeted: ‘More people arriving in Southend today. It almost looks like any other hot day here apart from the dots on the floor to mark out where to stand in the queue for ice creams.
‘One man told me ‘it’s madness, it’s like everyone’s forgotten about coronavirus”.
Another social media user posted: ‘The state of Southend beach today like that is ridiculous, how have people not been told to leave?’
A third added: ‘Southend beach at lunchtime on what’s heading for the hottest day of the year. Technically you’re allowed to travel somewhere and to sunbathe – but this is the result when so many choose the same place…’
A fourth wrote: ‘People clearly staying alert to the chance of a beach day down in Southend.’
The Met Office’s Nicola Maxey told MailOnline: ‘A warm, fine sunny day for most people with the possibility of isolated spots reaching around 28C (82F) in the south-east. It’s a southerly airflow so bringing in nice warm air. There is a possibility it will be the warmest day of the year so far.
‘We are going to see a change in weather starting from tomorrow, which will see temperatures dip a little after today.
‘Friday is more 22C-23C (72F-73F), so a slight dip in temperatures as we go through the weekend, with a low-pressure system coming in through the Atlantic affecting northern parts, but having some impact further south before things kick up again next week.’
She added: ‘Tomorrow we’ll start seeing with this low-pressure system travelling up from the Atlantic some bands of cloud and rain from the west, pushing eastwards across west and north-west Scotland and affecting potentially parts of north-west England.
‘But it sort of weakens and fragments as it pushes across country. We are going to see showers and isolated thunderstorms possibly in the south-east where it stays warm, which makes the air a little bit unstable and there may be a chance you see the odd thunderstorm.’
Scorching weather led to the resort of Woolacombe in North Devon becoming over-crowded with traffic grid locked, as neighbouring resorts of Croyde, Saunton Sands and Putsborough experienced huge numbers of people attempting to spend the day at the beach.
Faye Faybourne, 17 (left), and Daisy Sloane, 16, from Killingworth on King Edwards’ Bay, Tynemouth, as people flock to parks and beaches amid the rocketing temperatures and lockdown restrictions being eased
A pair go swimming in the scorching temperatures early this morning at Branksome beach in Dorset. Sunbathers have been making the most of their new-found freedom following the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions
Apple mobility data shows that people across the UK are slowly starting to get back to work, with the amount of people driving, walking and taking public transport creeping back up towards baseline figures
The crowded scenes at Southend beach sparked backlash on social media, with one Twitter user writing: ‘Is this what #StayAlert means if you live in #Southend? If so, it’s not so bad after all… Lord help us’
Another Twitter user posted an image of Bournemouth beach, captioning: ‘British public showing none of the ‘good common sense’ at Bournemouth beach. Unfortunately, the council and police have no powers now. Second wave incoming surely’
Tourists and residents queuing while waiting to get into a Tesco Express at Sandbanks beach in Dorset, appearing not to adhere to social distancing rules and standing closer than 6.5ft (2m) apart
People sat close together on a busy Sandbanks beach in Dorset today, as beach goers appear to ignore social distancing rules
People sunbathe on a beach in Brighton today, as lockdown restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak have been relaxed, allowing unlimited outdoor exercise and activities such as sunbathing
Britons flock to a packed Bournemouth beach in Dorset with many seen sitting close together, despite social distancing guidelines still in force as the coronavirus lockdown is gradually eased
A paddle boarder pictured at Branksome beach in Dorset early this morning, as Britons are set to bask in the hottest day of the year so far as temperatures are forecast to hit 82F, with London’s St James’s Park seeing a high of 79.16F (26.2C) on Tuesday
Members of the public at Southend on Sea enjoy the sunshine this morning, buying ice creams, takeaway food and beach equipment from nearby stalls, as the coronavirus lockdown is eased across the nation
People enjoy the sunshine in Hyde Park, London, today as restrictions are eased and Britons are allowed to sunbathe in parks
Two people stand on the rocks before going for an early morning dip in the sunshine at Branksome beach in Dorset this morning. It comes as sunbathers make the most of their new-found freedom, as lockdown restrictions are eased
A sunbather enjoys the warm weather at Clapham Common in south-west London. Hot conditions are expected in the capital, as people are now allowed to exercise outside as much as they want and are allowed to sunbathe
Londoners pictured enjoying the sunshine at Clapham Common Park this morning, with some seen wearing face masks. The Met Office’s Nicola Maxey said the warmer temperatures are being brought about by a ‘southerly air flow’
A kayaker takes to the water as they enjoy the early sunshine at Branksome beach in Dorset today. Coral bookmakers is as short as 1-4 for 86F (30C) or higher being recorded in the UK this week
Three paddle boarders make the most of the sunshine this morning at Branksome beach in Dorset. Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said the ‘vast majority’ of the UK will have a ‘dry day with sunny spells’
People visit the beach in Brighton today, as temperatures rocket on what is forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far
A man rides his bicycle with his dog in London’s Hyde Park this morning, as today is set to be the hottest day of the year so far
People sunbathe on a beach in Brighton as lockdown restrictions are relaxed, advising people still adhere to social distancing guidelines, but allowing the public unlimited outdoor exercise and activities such as sunbathing
Three people take a selfie as they enjoy the sunshine and easing of lockdown restrictions on Clapham Common today. Boris Johnson has said the public should be encouraged to head back to work if they cannot work from home
Joggers and cyclists take their daily exercise at Branksome beach in Dorset early this morning. BBC’s Carol Kirkwood forecast the hottest temperatures to spread from Yorkshire towards the south-east
Locals said some visitors lost their temper in the sweltering heat as they became stuck in traffic jams waiting for a space in a car park and fights had to be broken up by police.
One resident of the village told Mail Online: ‘It was complete chaos. Cars were parking on double yellow lines and no stopping routes. Buses couldn’t get through and had to cancel their trips.
‘The emergency services were unable to operate and the Coast Guard could not even get to the beach. Surfers were having to act as rescuers for people who got into difficulty. It was complete madness.’
The main car park on the Esplanade in Woolacombe was full by 9am and with no other designated parking places visitors left their cars along the side of the small country roads.
Buses were unable to pass and traffic became gridlocked leading to frayed tempers in the sweltering heat.
Meanwhile, Barnstaple Police tweeted: ‘Traffic wardens are running out of tickets. Do not abandon your cars as emergency vehicles can’t get though. They will be towed away.
‘The traffic heading to the North Devon beaches is exceptionally busy. The beach car parks are now closed for new traffic….please avoid the area.’
A police car pictured at Woolacombe in North Devon as chaos broke out in the area, with locals saying some visitors lost their temper in the sweltering heat as they became stuck in traffic jams while waiting for a space in the car park
Parking fines were slapped onto vehicles, above, as hundreds of cars were illegally parked in the area in Woolacombe, north Devon. A resident said emergency services were ‘unable to operate’ and the Coast Guard could not even get to the beach
A massive queue of cars trails back down the country lane in Woolacombe, north Devon. Buses were unable to pass and traffic became gridlocked leading to frayed tempers in the sweltering heat
Police by the beach in Woolacombe, north Devon. Richard Walden, 55, said people ‘started arriving at 5am’, adding: ‘Last night we had vans outside our house until 11pm. They are not just casual visitors’
Residents and tourists at the beach in Woolacombe, north Devon. Throughout the day visitors attempted to use the public toilets, but on finding they were closed one desperate woman attempted to kick open the door
Richard Walden, 55, of Woolacombe, Devon, said: ‘It is unbelievable the amount of thoughtless visitors we have had, parking illegally and causing the roads to be blocked and preventing use of the footpath.
‘They blocked the whole footpath. There is no way a fire engine or ambulance could get down that. It is totally senseless. People sadly haven’t heeded the warnings, especially the ones from the lifeguard and RNLI. There was a big powerful surf out there today but no lifeguards, If anyone gets into trouble, they are on their own.
‘Living in a seaside resort you are used to having lots of visitors, but it is unwise to come today. No car parks are open, no shops and there is nowhere to go to the toilet.
‘It was unbelievable selfish. People started arriving at 5am and last night we had vans outside our house until 11pm. They are not just casual visitors.’
Throughout the day visitors attempted to use the public toilets, but on finding they were closed one desperate woman attempted to kick open the door. Devon and Cornwall Police had advise motorists to avoid the area to prevent further congestion.
One local resident said: ‘People were literally dumping their cars anywhere and heading to the beach. The village is happy to welcome visitors but once the spaces are all taken, unfortunately visitors seemed to lose their minds. Its very scary.
‘There is not really any social distancing and we saw a young lady trying to kick a toilet door off its hinges as they were closed. Also, there is only a Londis and a Newsagent open in the village.
Two people out on the water at Branksome beach in Dorset this morning. Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst predicted the hottest day of the year so far, with highs of 82F (28C) in the London area
Two people sit in the sunshine at the Forty Foot in Sandycove, Dublin, as lockdown rules are eased and the bathing spot has reopened following closures due to the coronavirus pandemic
One man goes fishing while enjoying the sunshine this morning at Branksome beach in Dorset, with a paddle boarder seen in the background. There is a risk of thunderstorms on Thursday in east and south-east England
People pictured enjoying the sun while sipping takeaway drinks and wearing sunglasses during the warm weather at Clapham Common in south-west London. The capital saw the hottest day of the year yet at St James’s Park on Tuesday
A jogger wears sunglasses while taking their daily exercise this morning at Branksome beach in Dorset as lockdown restrictions are eased across the country and Britons venture outdoors to enjoy the scorching sunshine
A group enjoy a picnic and laugh with a dog owner after one of her dogs steals some of their bread on Clapham Common. Lambeth Council have replaced signs to say ‘stay alert’ and to allow people to sit on benches
Three paddle boarders enjoy the sunshine today at Branksome beach in Dorset. Temperatures are predicted to cool from 75F (24C) or 77F (25C) before the rain to a fresher 63F (17C) to 70F (21C) on Friday
Londoners walking their dogs enjoy the sunshine and the easing of the coronavirus lockdown on Clapham Common this morning, after the Government eased restrictions and allowed people to meet, within social distancing guidelines
Traffic around Brighton was lower this morning than at the same times last week, though congestion levels rose by 1pm as locals searched for the sun and flocked to beaches, according to TomTom data
Congestion levels in Bournemouth were lower during the morning than they were at the same times last week, but increased by two per cent at 1pm as locked-down Britons left the city, according to TomTom data
A spokesperson for Woolacombe Tourist Information said: ‘We had hoped that people would be considerate to the local coastal communities so are very disappointed by the influx.’
By midday lfracombe and Braunton police reported the coast roads were ‘gridlocked’ and urged people not to travel to North Devon.
A tweet said they had identified vehicles from all over the country in North Devon today, and North and West Devon Superintendent Toby Davies tweeted to urge people to stay away.
Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst forecast this morning: ‘There will be a bit of a grey, misty start for some first thing but that will quickly burn away.
‘The vast majority of the UK will have a dry day with sunny spells, if not blue skies all day for some.’
He predicted the hottest day of the year so far, with highs of 82F (28C) in the London area.
BBC’s Carol Kirkwood forecast the hottest temperatures to spread from Yorkshire towards the south-east, predicting highs of 84F (29C).
She said: ‘The highest temperatures from Yorkshire down this east coast, towards East Anglia and the south-east, where we could hit 28C (82F) or 29C (84F) today, making it the warmest day of the year so far.’
Ms Kirkwood added: ‘If you’re looking for rain in today’s forecast there’s not much around. In fact the only place really where we’re likely to see it is the far north of Scotland.
Social media users react to the packed beaches, with one saying: ‘The advice was always stay at home if you can. Not sure Southend Council will be impressed or the nearby hospital’
‘For most of us it’s going to be dry, it’s going to be sunny and it’s also going to be very warm. High pressure is firmly in charge of our weather at the moment, keeping those fronts at bay.
‘We’ve also seen some fog through the morning but most of that has gone now, and we also hang on to a little bit of sea fog across parts of the Irish Sea coastline and parts of western Scotland.’
There is a risk of thunderstorms on Thursday in east and south-east England as a band of rain pushes eastwards.
Temperatures are predicted to cool from 75F (24C) or 77F (25C) before the rain to a fresher 63F (17C) to 70F (21C) on Friday.
Mr Dewhurst predicted a windy start to the weekend with sunshine and showers for many with the weather gradually turning drier from the south on Sunday and into bank holiday Monday.
Meanwhile, Coral bookmakers is as short as 1-4 for 86F (30C) or higher being recorded in the UK this week. The firm is also 5-4 for this month to end as the hottest May on record and next month at 6-4 to be a record hot June.
Coral’s John Hill said: ‘The prospects of a sweltering summer are increasing all the time and that has forced us to slash the odds on there being a hosepipe ban in the UK this year.
‘It feels like summer has come early and our betting suggests temperatures will reach 30C (86F) at some point this week.’