Lockdown end date delay: Hancock’s urgent warning ‘reckless’ Brits putting roadmap at risk

Boris Johnson quizzed on lockdown patience by Beth Rigby

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Parks and beaches were packed yesterday as thousands suffering from lockdown fatigue made the most of the scorching weather to socialise outdoors. Coronavirus rules eased on Monday allowing for groups of six or two households to meet up outdoors in public spaces and private gardens.

However, with temperatures hitting 24.5C yesterday – the hottest March day in 53 years – Brits appeared to ignore guidelines as they made the most of the good weather.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned of a third wave of coronavirus engulfing Europe, saying it is likely to hit the UK next with fears for a rise in cases if social distancing is not abided by.

Temperatures are forecast to be even hotter today, with concerns for more troubling scenes across the country.

Last night the Health Secretary wrote on Twitter: “Let’s enjoy the sun but let’s do it safely.

“We have come so far, don’t blow it now.”

Mr Johnson has also urged the nation to “proceed with caution”, urging people not to abuse the relaxation in coronavirus rules.

A rise in infections due to people shunning the Covid guidelines risks derailing the timetable for the roadmap back to normality.

A five week gap has been set between each set of easing of lockdown restrictions to give the Government and scientists time to review the data and ensure the four tests for the continued relaxing of rules are met.

The third test warns a rise in Covid cases could delay the timetable, with ministers eager to ensure “infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS”.

Infectious diseases expert Dr Bharat Pankhania, from Exeter University medical school, warned there was a risk of the rules being ignored in the face of the current good weather.

“People have been kept in their homes for a very long time and there is of course a build-up of frustration,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

“The expression ‘slippery slope’ is very apt, especially when it is aided by alcohol because what happens when you have a drink you drop your guard.”

In Nottingham, a dispersal order was put in place after large crowds gathered in a city park.

Footage posted on social media captured a brawl, dozens of people drinking and ignoring social distancing rules, leaving behind large amounts of litter at Nottingham Arboretum.

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Local councillor David Mellen said the progress made in defeating the virus risked being undermined by a selfish minority.

He said: “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.

“The road map is a cautious way out of this terrible situation and we all need to abide strictly to its rules.”

On Monday Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said there was “a high likelihood that there will be some uptick as a result of the relaxations”m of coronavirus rules.

However, he added: “If people stick to social-distancing rules and they are outside, the risk of transmission is massively lower than if they are very close together and inside.”

The Prime Minister has previously warned a third wave of the pandemic is gripping the continent and on Monday he tolf the public he could “categorically rule out another lockdown” but only if people obeyed the social distancing rules.

He said: “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.”

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