Public warned to heed social distancing measures ahead of sunny weekend

The public have been urged to continue practising social distancing as sunny weather is forecast for the first weekend following the slight easing of lockdown restrictions in England.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has warned people to stay safe at sea as the majority of beaches will not have lifeguards, and the National Trust has introduced a booking process in some of its car parks to limit visitor numbers.

The Met Office has predicted higher temperatures for much of England and Wales at the weekend, after some areas in Cumbria and Northern Ireland experienced a touch of overnight frost on Thursday night.

Meteorologist Bonnie Diamond said: “We should have seen the last of the overnight frost, and after tonight temperatures are on the rise.

“The settled weather that we have had this week is continuing across the southern half of the UK.

“During the daytime on Saturday and Sunday, we’re seeing sunny spells with possibly the odd isolated shower, and average daytime temperatures of 17C to 18C in England.”

She added highs of 20C are forecast in the south-west of England, with cloudier and potentially wet weather in Scotland and Northern Ireland facing lows of 7C.

The MCA has urged people planning to surf, swim or pursue boating activities in the sea to make sure they know how to contact HM Coastguard beforehand, as the majority of beaches will not have lifeguards.

The RNLI suspended lifeguard provision during lockdown and there are currently no lifeguards on the 240 beaches that it normally patrols.

The director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes said people can get help at sea by calling 999.

Ms Hughes said: “In England, now more than ever, people need to respect the sea and the coast.

“Whether you’re local or not, whatever your ability or experience in your chosen sport or leisure activity, the sea can still catch you out and be unmerciful when it does.

“Coronavirus hasn’t gone away and we all need to follow the rules.

“Remember your choices might put people, including yourself and frontline responders, at risk. Take extra care in these extraordinary times.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged further caution, advising people not to go in the sea at beaches where lifeguards are not present.

The LGA also advised people to check advice on their council website before travelling, as not all beaches will be open.

The National Trust began reopening some of its smaller car parks on Wednesday, and will be introducing a booking system for larger car parks, which are due to begin reopening next Thursday.

While the trust’s houses and gardens remain closed, those planning to head to national parks will be able to book a car park space online in England from Monday, with non-members required to pay a fee.

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