Britons continue to flout lockdown rules as they break social-distancing measures by running, cycling, and strolling within 6ft of each other through London’s parks and along the seafront.
Men, women, and children of all ages rushed outside today to enjoy beautiful spring weather on another weekend of total lockdown, strolling through Kensington Palace Gardens and Battersea Park.
Runners and cyclists enjoyed their once daily form of exercise, officially approved by the Government and by new police guidance issued to help clarify the rules around the lockdown for officers.
Others took advantage of the ambiguity of the daily quota of exercise by sunbathing on the grass, often within less than 6ft of each other – the official distance people are supposed to keep.
Semi-naked Britons exercised in Greenwich Park, while police officers were out on patrol enforcing the lockdown – even breaking up groups of two suspected of exploiting loopholes by staying outdoors.
And couples were spotted cuddling together on Primrose Hill in Regent’s Park, London, while many walked, ran and cycled through the green space at close quarters.
Many people wore face masks to ensure they could not unwittingly transmit the virus, which scientists around the world increasingly recognise can be carried by patients who are asymptomatic.
One cyclist was even pictured travelling straight towards a small group of people. It appears they were cycling at such speed that it would be unlikely for them to get out of the way from a safe distance.
Meanwhile, scores of people flocked to Hove Seafront to enjoy the hot weather, as couples held hands while walking, cyclists pushed their bikes, and groups sat on the pebbles beach.
These astonishing scenes come a week after the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing issued new guidance meant to clarify the rules around the lockdown for officers.
Police forces have been accused of zealotry when enforcing the lockdown, breaking up groups of two, bellowing at flouters through megaphones, and moving people sat on park benches on.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that a long-term lockdown would be impracticable. This has caused business and political leaders to demand that the Government set an ‘exit strategy’ in motion.
On another frantic day with tensions rising in the coronavirus battle:
- Britain recorded 596 more deaths today, taking the official national death toll to 16,060 to date;
- The Government was accused by Labour of ‘treating the public like children’ by refusing to spell out how the exit strategy from lockdown might look, with Keir Starmer demanding a ‘road map’ out of the crisis;
- OECD chief Angel Gurria warned there will have to be ‘stop-go’ arrangements in place for ‘social distancing’ for a long time to come, urging governments to ‘err on the side of caution’;
- The Irish health minister has suggested that pubs might not be able to open until there is a coronavirus vaccine, which some believe will take more than a year;
- Infectious diseases expert Sir Jeremy Farar, a member of the SAGE advisory group, has cautioned that the lockdown ‘cannot go on much longer’ as it is ‘damaging all our lives’;
- A consignment of PPE, including desperately-needed gowns, that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick boasted would arrive today from Turkey is reportedly delayed;
- The chairman of the British Medical Association council said it had warned the Government ‘weeks ago’ about the risk of personal protective equipment shortages but hit a ‘brick wall’;
- Michael Gove said the UK had sent PPE equipment to China early in the outbreak, but insisted it was not part of the UK’s pandemic stocks and stressed the Asian superpower had since sent back more;
- One of the scientists leading efforts to make the breakthrough warned it is not ‘completely certain’ that a coronavirus vaccine can be produced, with Mr Gove admitting no-one should see it as a ‘dead cert’.
Semi-naked Britons are pictured exercising in Greenwich Park, London, during the coronavirus lockdown (April 19, 2020)
The British public fail to practice the 6ft social-distancing measures along the Thames near Hammersmith (April 19, 2020)
Britons continue to stomp around London’s parks despite strict coronavirus lockdown rules in place (April 19, 2020)
Hundreds of people were pictured enjoying walks, runs and bicycle rides at Primrose Hill in London today
A couple are spoken to by a police officer after they are spotted relaxing together on Primrose Hill in London today
A woman uses a paddleboard at Brighton seafront today. She used a neck-warmer to cover her mouth
Couples and cyclists were spotted walking along Hove seafront during the coronavirus lockdown (April 19, 2020)
A man is seen cycling in Kensington Palace Park, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues (April 19, 2020)
No ‘certainty’ that a coronavirus vaccine can be made, top scientist warns Government
It is not ‘completely certain’ that a coronavirus vaccine can be produced, one of the scientists leading efforts to make the breakthrough warned today.
The note of caution from Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University, came as Cabinet minister Michael Gove said people should not assume such treatments were a ‘dead cert’.
Prof Gilbert told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘That’s why we have to do trials to find out. The prospects are very good, but it is clearly not completely certain.
‘We are waiting for the final safety tests to be done on the vaccine and the final approvals to be given.’
In the meantime, permission has been given to recruit volunteers, take blood tests, explain the process and check their health status, she said.
‘By the time we have all the approvals for the vaccine ready, we should have a good pool of volunteers to draw from and we should be able to get going quite quickly.’
Schools could return within three weeks under a ‘traffic light’ plan being pushed by senior ministers amid Cabinet splits over whether the Government should risks Covid-19 deaths to save the economy.
The fledgling ‘exit strategy’ would see the country get back up in running in stages after May 11, with primary and GCSE pupils potentially going back part-time, according to The Sunday Times.
Meanwhile, clothes shops and garden centres could be among the ‘non-essential’ stores given a ‘green light’ to reopen with precautions to protect customers. Rail services would be brought up to normal levels, with commuters urged to wear face masks, and the NHS would resume carrying out non-urgent procedures.
A second ‘amber’ stage later in the summer would see more of the economy revived, with all employees told to go back to work and some social gatherings allowed.
Pubs and restaurants might not reopen until later in the year, along with sporting events. And over-70s face a ‘red light’ for many more months, potentially having to wait for a vaccine before returning to normality.
The proposals are gaining traction amid a mounting backlash at the lack of a clear plan. Senior ministers are divided between those who want to ‘run hot’, using apparent spare capacity in the NHS to relax social distancing soon, and those who fear acting too early will allow the disease to run rampant.
After concerns about drift at the heart of power, Boris Johnson is gearing up to take back the reins of Government, making calls to ministers from Chequers where he is recuperating from his own health scare.
A couple are pictured sunbathing with their dog in a busy Hyde park, London, during coronavirus lockdown (April 19, 2020)
People take a walk in Kensington Palace Park, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues (April 19, 2020)
Runners and walkers make their way through a crowded Kensington Park, London, today as they enjoy the warm weather
Cyclists and walkers are pictured above moving through Kensington Park in London today as they enjoy the warm weather
Police enforcing the coronavirus lockdown as Britons continue to flout the strict rules in place to protect them (April 19, 2020)
People sit on London park benches despite strict lockdown rules which do not allow for them to do so (April 19, 2020)
People exercise in Kensington Palace Park, using up their daily quota of exercise on a sunny weekend (April 19, 2020)
Scores of Britons continue to flout lockdown rules as ‘Hovidiots’ rush down to Hove seafront to enjoy the sunshine, April 19
General view of people in Kensington Palace Park on April 19, 2020, where they are sunbathing in violation of lockdown rules
Super-rich lockdown flouters hold the key to Britain’s back door: How private jets are flying hundreds of passengers from coronavirus hotspots into UK due to ‘lax border controls’
Super-rich tourists have been using private jets to fly to Britain from coronavirus -ravaged countries.
545 chartered planes entered the UK since March 23, helped by the country’s open border policy.
Among them were 25 aircraft from Covid-stricken Spain, 15 from the US – the world’s worst-affected nation – 27 came from France and 32 from Germany.
It comes after a private jet full of rich holidaymakers from London was sent packing from France when they tried to get to their Cannes villa by helicopter.
More than 15,000 people are entering the UK daily and are being allowed to leave airports without testing for the bug which has killed over 160,000 people globally.
It is understood wealthy visitors are not being transparent about why they are flying so they can bypass the Government’s ‘essential travel’ only rule.
Michael Gove tried to dampen frenzied speculation over loosening of restrictions this morning, saying while it was ‘entirely understandable’ people want to know the way out it was too early to make such decisions.
Asked if the ‘traffic light’ system was the Government’s ‘exit strategy’, the Cabinet Office minister said: ‘It is the case that we are looking at all the evidence. But we have set some tests that must be passed before we can even think about easing the lockdown.’
Although he stressed no decisions had been taken, Mr Gove did hint on Sky News at the shape of an easing, suggesting pubs and other parts of the hospitality industry will be ‘among the last’ to come back.
Warring neighbours are using the crisis as a pretext to make ‘deliberately false reports’ to police about locals suspected of flouting the lockdown, it has emerged.
Police chiefs had asked the public to snitch on neighbours accused of violating lockdown rules.
They are now asking Britons to stop exploiting the pandemic to settle feuds by making unwarranted calls.
A senior police source told The Observer newspaper: ‘People have had pops at each other and are using this as an opportunity to try to cause more grief and get officers around to their address.’
The NPCC wants the British public to ‘exercise common sense and only report well-meaning concerns’.
‘Deliberate false reporting, obstruction or misinformation at a time of crisis helps nobody,’ the CoP added. ‘In those cases police will use their discretion in determining whether enforcement action is appropriate.’
Londoners are pictured sunbathing in Crystal Palace, ignoring the Government’s instructions (April 19, 2020)
A police officer is pictured speaking to Britons sunbathing in Greenwich Park during the lockdown (April 19, 2020)
Scores of Britons continue to flout lockdown rules as ‘Hove-idiots’ rush down to Hove seafront (April 19, 2020)
Two people sit on a park bench looking at a Magpie in Battersea Park, London, amid the pandemic (April 19, 2020)
Three people are spotted sitting on the pebble beach at Hove amid good weather during the lockdown (April 19, 2020)
Joggers in Battersea Park, London, standing less than 6ft apart from each other during the lockdown (April 19, 2020)
Schools could return within three weeks under a ‘traffic light’ plan being pushed by senior ministers amid Cabinet splits over whether the Government should risks Covid-19 deaths to save the economy