'Shocking’: International newspapers react to pictures of Britain’s packed beaches in pandemic

People are seen on the beach on the hottest day of the year, after an easing of social restrictions due to coronavirus, in Bournemouth, England, Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Temperatures reached 32.6C (90.7F) at London's Heathrow Airport on Wednesday. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)

International newspapers have described scenes of Brits flocking to beaches as "unbelievable" and "shocking", as thousands descended on seaside resorts despite the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday and Thursday, sun-worshippers defied social distancing guidelines and packed out seaside hot spots such as Brighton and Bournemouth.

It came as the UK experienced its hottest day of the year on Thursday, with the temperature reaching 33.3C at London's Heathrow Airport.

The scenes followed Boris Johnson's announcement this week confirming pubs, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and hairdressers can reopen from 4 July providing they are "Covid-secure". He also announced a cut in social distancing from two metres to "one metre plus".

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Heatwave hits the UK
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Heatwave hits the UK
Left to right Claudia Swian aged 19, Lauren Sharpe aged 19 and Maia Benstead aged 19, enjoy the warm weather in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
Crowds gather on the beach in Bournemouth as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
Crowds gather on the beach in Bournemouth as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
A train passes through the shimmering heat from railway lines in Ashford, Kent, as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
Sunbathers take pictures of the deer in Richmond Park, London, as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
Cows use the River Thames to cool off in Bourne End, Bucks, as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
A member of the Ambulance service looks out from Bournemouth Pier as crowds gather on the beach in Bournemouth as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
A view of the beach in Brighton as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
A man by a fountain at Trafalgar Square as thermometers hit 34C.
People enjoy the warm weather by Bridlington Harbour as Britain is braced for a June heatwave as temperatures are set to climb into the mid-30s this week.
Paddle boarders in Bourne End, Bucks, as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
A view of the beach in Brighton as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
The scene on the beach in Bournemouth, Dorset, after the UK officially recorded its warmest day of the year so far when the temperature reached 32.6C (90.7F) at London's Heathrow Airport at 2.46pm. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
Libby Patterson 20 from Tynemouth enjoys an ice-cream in Whitley Bay, during officially the hottest day of the year so far. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
People eating ice-cream in Whitley Bay, during officially the hottest day of the year so far. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Friends James Robinson and Charlotte Inglis dangle their feet in the River Thames in Henley, as Britain is braced for a June heatwave as temperatures are set to climb into the mid-30s this week. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
People enjoy the hot weather by Three Shires Head on the River Dane, where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet, as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week. (Photo by Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images)
PORTHCAWL, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 24: Women sunbathing on Sandy Bay beach as the Met Office warn temperatures could reach 34 degrees this week on June 24, 2020 in Porthcawl, United Kingdom. The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has announced that all non-essential shops will be allowed to open their doors again in Wales from Monday but people will be asked to continue to "stay local" with five miles given as guidance until July 6. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
A couple sail in an inflatable dinghy in the London Docklands, in front of the skyline of Canary Wharf, during officially the hottest day of the year so far. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
A sunbather enjoys the sunshine in Oxford, during officially the hottest day of the year so far. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
BLACKPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 24: Seagulls wait in hope of a titbit at Blackpool as people enjoy the fine weather on June 24, 2020 in Blackpool, United Kingdom. The UK is experiencing a summer heatwave, with temperatures in many parts of the country expected to rise above 30C and weather warnings in place for thunderstorms at the end of the week. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Beachgoers enjoy the sunshine as they sunbathe on the beach and play in the sea in Southend on Sea, south east England, on June 24, 2020. - Just days after lockdown ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool Tuesday as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius. Britain was bracing for a flood of visitors to its beaches with the heatwave expected to last until Friday and temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s in the south and centre of the country. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
BLACKPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 24: People enjoy the fine weather at Thornton Cleveleys promenade on June 24, 2020 in Blackpool, United Kingdom. The UK is experiencing a summer heatwave, with temperatures in many parts of the country expected to rise above 30C and weather warnings in place for thunderstorms at the end of the week. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A man back flips into the River Dane by Three Shires Head, where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet, as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week.
In Pictures: Sunseekers savour delights of June heatwave from coast to coast
In Pictures: Sunseekers savour delights of June heatwave from coast to coast
In Pictures: Sunseekers savour delights of June heatwave from coast to coast
In Pictures: Sunseekers savour delights of June heatwave from coast to coast
In Pictures: Sunseekers savour delights of June heatwave from coast to coast
In Pictures: Sunseekers savour delights of June heatwave from coast to coast
In Pictures: Sunseekers savour delights of June heatwave from coast to coast
People cool off in the River Cam at Grantchester near Cambridge as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week.
Sue Ingle enjoys the sunny weather in Scarborough as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week.
People enjoy the hot weather by Three Shires Head on the River Dane, where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet, as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week.
Front of photograph, Charlotte Young enjoys the sunny weather in Scarborough as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week.
People enjoy the hot weather by Three Shires Head on the River Dane, where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet, as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week.
People enjoy the hot weather by Three Shires Head on the River Dane, where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet, as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week.
People relax on Crosby Beach as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2020. See PA story WEATHER Hot. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Seagulls fly around as people enjoy the hot weather in Cullercoats Bay, Tyne and Wear as Britain is braced for a June heatwave as temperatures are set to climb into the mid-30s this week.
A man enjoys the sunny weather in Scarborough as Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s this week.
A family pass by as the water system irrigates plants during the hot and sunny weather at Kew gardens in London, Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures predicted to climb into the mid-30s this week.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Visitors enjoy the hot and sunny weather with a walk past flowers at Kew gardens in London, Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Britain is braced for a June heatwave with temperatures predicted to climb into the mid-30s this week.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
In Pictures: Cooling down as a heatwave looms
Sun-seekers cool off in the water and sunbathe on the riverbank at Hackney Marshes in east London on June 24, 2020, as temperatures reached 31 degrees C at Heathrow Airport on the hottest day of the year - Just days after lockdown ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool Tuesday as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius. Britain was bracing for a flood of visitors to its beaches with the heatwave expected to last until Friday and temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s in the south and centre of the country. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / various sources / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)
Sun-seekers cool off in the water and sunbathe on the riverbank at Hackney Marshes in east London on June 24, 2020, as temperatures reached 31 degrees C at Heathrow Airport on the hottest day of the year - Just days after lockdown ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool Tuesday as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius. Britain was bracing for a flood of visitors to its beaches with the heatwave expected to last until Friday and temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s in the south and centre of the country. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / various sources / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)
Sun-seekers cool off in the water and sunbathe on the riverbank at Hackney Marshes in east London on June 24, 2020, as temperatures reached 31 degrees C at Heathrow Airport on the hottest day of the year - Just days after lockdown ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool Tuesday as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius. Britain was bracing for a flood of visitors to its beaches with the heatwave expected to last until Friday and temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s in the south and centre of the country. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Sun-seekers cool off in the water and sunbathe on the riverbank at Hackney Marshes in east London on June 24, 2020, as temperatures reached 31 degrees C at Heathrow Airport on the hottest day of the year - Just days after lockdown ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool Tuesday as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius. Britain was bracing for a flood of visitors to its beaches with the heatwave expected to last until Friday and temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s in the south and centre of the country. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Sun-seekers cool off in the water and sunbathe on the riverbank at Hackney Marshes in east London on June 24, 2020, as temperatures reached 31 degrees C at Heathrow Airport on the hottest day of the year - Just days after lockdown ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool Tuesday as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius. Britain was bracing for a flood of visitors to its beaches with the heatwave expected to last until Friday and temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s in the south and centre of the country. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Sun-seekers cool off in the water and sunbathe on the riverbank at Hackney Marshes in east London on June 24, 2020, as temperatures reached 31 degrees C at Heathrow Airport on the hottest day of the year - Just days after lockdown ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool Tuesday as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius. Britain was bracing for a flood of visitors to its beaches with the heatwave expected to last until Friday and temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s in the south and centre of the country. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
The scene on the beach in Bournemouth, Dorset, after the UK officially recorded its warmest day of the year so far when the temperature reached 32.6C (90.7F) at London's Heathrow Airport at 2.46pm. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
The scene on the beach in Bournemouth, Dorset, after the UK officially recorded its warmest day of the year so far when the temperature reached 32.6C (90.7F) at London's Heathrow Airport at 2.46pm. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
Swimmers take to the water off the beach in Bournemouth, Dorset, after the UK officially recorded its warmest day of the year so far when the temperature reached 32.6C (90.7F) at London's Heathrow Airport at 2.46pm. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
A man dives into water in the London Docklands, in front of the skyline of Canary Wharf, during officially the hottest day of the year so far. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Beachgoers enjoy the sunshine as they sunbathe on the beach and play in the sea in Southend on Sea, south east England, on June 24, 2020. - Just days after lockdown ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool Tuesday as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius. Britain was bracing for a flood of visitors to its beaches with the heatwave expected to last until Friday and temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s in the south and centre of the country. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said it was left with no choice but to declare a major incident after services were "completely overstretched" as huge numbers of visitors defied advice to stay away during the hot weather in recent days.

Condemning the "irresponsible" behaviour of crowds who gridlocked roads, dumped rubbish, abused refuse collectors and parked illegally, the council said extra police patrols have been brought in.

Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty urged people to follow social distancing rules in the hot weather or risk causing a spike in coronavirus.

He wrote on Twitter: "Covid-19 has gone down due to the efforts of everyone but is still in general circulation.

"If we do not follow social distancing guidance then cases will rise again.

"Naturally people will want to enjoy the sun but we need to do so in a way that is safe for all."

The world watches

Stern in Germany, the New York Times and the New Zealand Herald all covered the scenes on the south coast.

Foreign media outlets have criticised those heading out to enjoy the weather, in light of the UK recording more than 54,000 fatalities – the third highest Covid-19 death toll in the world.

German publication Stern wrote: "One can hardly believe that these pictures were taken during the corona pandemic. But sadly this is the case.

"Prime minister Boris Johnson had only just eased the lockdown rules on June 23 – from two metres to more than a metre – when the heat in south east Great Britain was really savoured'

In a piece titled "Unbelievable images of crowded beaches at Bournemouth", News.com.au commented: "We thought the crowds at Bondi Beach were bad but UK beachgoers have taken things to the next level."

The New Zealand Herald wrote: "With Wednesday being the hottest day of the year so far in England, people packed beaches to laze about in the sun, ignoring the country's strict social distancing measures."

In the US, the New York Times ran a piece headlined: "UK Beach Town Raises Alarm as Huge Crowds Ignore Covid Advice and Flock to the Coast."

Meanwhile, in an article headlined "What distancing?", Canadian website CTV said: "Parts of the UK are preparing for a further easing of lockdown restrictions on July 4, but there have been other signs that members of the public are increasingly flouting the rules."

The Met Office has issued a hot weather warning as temperatures soar across the UK.

It raised the level to 3 on Wednesday as health authorities encouraged the most vulnerable – many of whom have been shielding during the Covid-19 lockdown – to protect themselves amid the "exceptionally hot weather forecast this week".

Public Health England (PHE) said older people, those with underlying health conditions, and very young children were all more at risk from the higher temperatures.

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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