Thousands of people flocked to the UK’s beaches on Friday as the country basked in a heatwave set to continue into the weekend.
In Brighton, Bournemouth and Southend in southern England, pictures showed hundreds packed on the sand despite warnings that social distancing guidelines should be respected.
Temperatures were expected to rise to 37C in London and the south-east on Friday, the second day of a heatwave expected to last until at least Sunday.
By midday, the Coastguard said it had responded to dozens of calls and has urged the public to stay safe on the beach.
As of Friday afternoon, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council’s beach check app showed 19 of its 24 beaches under red alert, warning people to avoid the areas as safe social distancing is not possible.
The remaining beaches were under amber, meaning they were congested and beachgoers should “stay alert”.
Studies have shown that the vast majority of Covid-19 transmissions occurred indoors, while outdoor transmission was scarce.
A study of 318 outbreaks in China found transmission happened outdoors in only one, involving just two cases. Most occurred in home or public transport.
HM Coastguard said about 70 call-outs had been made across the UK by midday on Friday, which is “above average for this time of year”.
Matt Leat, head of infrastructure and technology lead at HM Coastguard, said: “The coast is very busy today and that’s grown across the morning and will continue to grow as the day goes on.
“Looking back to last Friday [July 31], we are going to hit that many number of call-outs potentially today and this weekend.”
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