Lockdown-weary Britons today threw caution to the wind and left their homes in favour of the nation’s beaches, parks and markets as temperatures started to climb.
Families, joggers and weightlifters flocked to green spaces across the country for 52F (11C) temperatures as the UK braced for near-record 76F (24C) heat next week.
Ahead of the easing of restrictions on ‘Happy Monday’, police chiefs warned the public to stay vigilant and said next week is not the end of curbs on freedom.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs Council, said complacency risked spreading new Covid variants and could lead to fresh rules.
Amateur athletes raced along the banks of Queensmere Pond in Wimbledon Common, south west London, today while walkers strolled hand-in-hand elsewhere on the grounds.
Greenwich Park in the south east of the capital was rammed with sunseekers from early this morning, with dogwalkers and runners weaving past each other near the Royal Observatory.
And cyclists and pedestrians strolled through Windsor Park in huge groups, just minutes away from where the Queen and Prince Philip are seeing out the pandemic in the castle.
Elsewhere in the Covid crisis:
- Britons over-70s will be given Covid-19 vaccine booster jabs in September to protect them from emerging variants of the virus;
- Shops will be able to stay open until 10pm six days a week to turbocharge the high street and help the economy recover;
- People with big families will be able to self-isolate in hotels for free under new Government plans to stop the spread of coronavirus;
- An ambitious plan is being considered by ministers to get Brits back on holiday by rolling out rapid Covid tests for anyone arriving in the UK, according to reports;
- Prince Charles’s stepson has been left devastated by the death of his girlfriend at the age of 42 after her cancer diagnosis was delayed by lockdown.
Crowds have flocked to Borough Market in London this afternoon despite the stay at home order remaining in place
Families, joggers and weightlifters flocked to parks and beaches across the country as the UK braced for near-record 76F (24C) heat next week. Pictured: Greenwich Park
People relax in St. James’s Park ahead of lockdown restrictions being eased on Monday, March 29
People on the promenade at Brighton are pictured this afternoon ahead of the expected warm weather spell next week
People flocked to Borough Market in central London this afternoon enjoying the sunshine in the capital city ahead of the easing of restrictions on ‘Happy Monday’
Temperatures started to climb today and hit 52F (11C) by lunchtime, the Met Office said, before peaking at 55F (13C) tomorrow.
But the mercury is expected to rise as high as 76F (24C) next week as the ‘stay at home’ edict imposed on January 4 is scrapped.
Despite the sun in the south, Cumbria was spattered with a blanket of snow this morning, with the A66 in Brough surrounded in white.
On Monday the spring heatwave will usher in the first significant return of personal freedoms in three months.
Temperatures are tipped to rise as high as 76F (24C) next week as the ‘stay at home’ edict imposed on January 4 is scrapped.
Gatherings of up to six people or two full households will be allowed in parks or in back gardens from Monday.
The popular market in central London was crawling with customers on Saturday afternoon – with these stalls looking particularly busy
The crowds walk through the tunnel between Borough Market and the River Thames as they enjoy the warmer weather today
People walk past Borough Market in the heart of the capital on Saturday afternoon as they get out and bask in the March sun
People walk down a street between Borough Market and the Shard as they flock to the centre of the capital today to enjoy the sun
Four men lark around while sipping their beers in Borough Market on Saturday afternoon as the weather turned warmer
The entrance to Borough Market in central London today looked packed full of people waiting to buy from the popular stalls
A tunnel under the railway at Borough Market is fulled with people – some wearing masks, but others not – as people headed out today in London
Police wearing face coverings speak to two women – also in masks – outside Borough Market in central London this afternoon
Golf, tennis and team sports can resume as part of the first stage of Mr Johnson’s roadmap to restore normal life by June 21.
Weddings will no longer be limited to ‘exceptional circumstances’ although the limit is still set at six attendees. Although the stay at home message is being scrapped, people will be encouraged to remain local.
Ministers have not said when their advice to work from home where possible will be lifted.
Foreign travel will be banned by law from Monday and those leaving the country without a reasonable excuse will incur a possible £5,000 fine. Holidays in the UK are still banned.
Families in England will have to wait only another two weeks before the next relaxation of coronavirus rules, with a swathe of freedoms restored on April 12.
This includes outdoor opening for pubs and restaurants, travel around the country and the reopening of non-essential shops.
The roadmap will lead to the return of almost all freedoms by June 21, provided cases do not surge. Some Tory MPs want ministers to move fasterSteve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, said: ‘The question will keep coming up: if we are really following the data, can we have our lives back sooner?’
Large crowds father on Putney riverside in London to enjoy the Spring sunshine. Temperatures are tipped to rise as high as 76F (24C) next week as the ‘stay at home’ edict imposed on January 4 is scrapped
Pedestrians and cyclists pictured on Putney Bridge in the Spring sunshine on a mild day in London today
Large crowds gather on Putney riverside today. The mercury is expected to rise as high as 76F (24C) next week as the ‘stay at home’ edict imposed on January 4 is scrapped
Two men and a woman with a pushchair gather in Hampstead Heath appreciating the sunshine on Saturday afternoon
The Spring sunshine brought lots of people into Beaconsfield this morning for the Farmers Market. People were out enjoying the sunshine and queuing for take away coffees
People can be seen queuing in the sunshine at the Farmers Market in Beaconsfield this morning. Some of the Covid lockdown restrictions will be lifted from Monday
People on the sea front at Brighton in Sussex ahead of the expected warm weather spell next week. Though the beachfront today was overcast
Families and friends flock to Primrose Hill in London today as the sun came out. Pictured: A family enjoy pizzas on the hill
People stroll around Primrose Hill today as the sun came out. But they kept their jackets on due to it still being cooler on Saturday afternoon
Amateur athletes raced along the banks of Queensmere Pond in Wimbledon Common, south west London, while walkers strolled hand-in-hand elsewhere on the grounds
People gather in Hampstead Heath in London as they enjoy the sunshine this weekend. Gatherings of up to six people or two full households will be allowed in parks or in back gardens from Monday
Latest figures show the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 has fallen below 5,000 for the first time since October 12. And the infection rate is now 58 per 100,000 – down from a peak of 642 in mid-January.
Despite the excitement ahead of ‘Happy Monday’, police chiefs doubled down on their enforcing of the rules and warned Britons not to go wild.
Mr Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, warned people not to think: ‘I’m only breaching it a little bit.’ He said police would still be out dishing out fines where needed and reminding people of the rules.
He said: ‘We are starting to see the possibility that we move out of the kind of strong restrictions that we have all been living under and everyone wants that to happen.
‘But there is a staged process that has been clearly laid out by Government that allows us to do that in a way that means they are able to monitor the infection rate and they are able to make sure we are not going too fast and Iwould urge everybody to pay attention to precisely what the changes are at every stage and not to try to preempt it.
‘Look across the Channel at most of our near European neighbours where new variants are arriving and most have now gone back into strict lockdowns.’
People at St James’ Park in London today. The rule of six will apply again for people meeting in parks and private gardens from Monday
Walkers seen at St James’ Park, near Westminster, this morning. The UK has been marking a year since lockdown restrictions began on March 23
People seen walking through St James’ Park. Despite the excitement ahead of ‘Happy Monday’, police chiefs doubled down on their enforcing of the rules
Temperatures will start to climb today and hit 52F (11C) by lunchtime, the Met Office says, before peaking at 55F (13C) tomorrow. Pictured: Wimbledon Common
Two women sit and talk on a bench in Greenwich Park this morning as the sun came out and they headed out for a bike ride
The mercury is expected to rise as high as 76F (24C) next week as the ‘stay at home’ edict imposed on January 4 is scrapped. Pictured: Wimbledon Common
People are pictured out enjoying the sunshine on the long walk in Windsor by the historical castle, where the Queen and Prince Philip are seeing out the pandemic
Pedestrians walk past closed retail stores in London today. The UK is set to begin its first phase of easing lockdown restrictions from March 29
A jogger runs past a closed retail store in London on Saturday. Yesterday Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said vaccine passports would not be introduced until the whole country has been inoculated
People peer at the window of a closed retail store in London. Shops will be able to stay open until 10pm six days a week to turbocharge the high street and help the economy recover
A man wearing a face mask walks past a closed Pull & Bear store in London today, ahead of the first phase of restrictions easing on Monday
A closed retail store is pictured in London today. Robert Jenrick announced that from April 12, extended daily opening hours will be introduced when non-essential retail reopens its doors
Golf’s popularity last summer when restrictions were eased saw nearly two thirds more rounds played between July and September compared with 2019.
Couples can have spring weddings from Monday – but with a new rule that says ‘you may not kiss the bride’.
After this week’s easing, small-scale receptions will be allowed from the beginning of next month. But there will be strict limits on numbers of guests, plus other pandemic regulations.
Among restrictions that will last at least until mid-summer are social distancing rules that say attendees should stay at least two metres away from anyone who is not in the same household bubble.
Newly-wed couples will be banned from kissing before the guests or congregation unless they have been living together before the wedding.
Sir Paul Coleridge, a former High Court judge who set up the Marriage Foundation think tank, called the order ‘bizarre’.
He said: ‘Having restricted wedding parties to just six people, they bizarrely order those from different households, which may include the bride and groom, to keep their distance.
‘This advice is based on the wrong assumption that all couples live together before they marry, which is simply not the case.’
During the winter lockdown, weddings have been allowed only in ‘exceptional’ circumstances – which in practice usually means one of the couple is terminally ill.
People out enjoying the sunshine on the long walk in Windsor by the historical castle. Large groups of cyclists are meeting up despite Covid laws
People enjoy the spring weather at St James’ Park in London today. The UK is set to begin its first phase of easing lockdown restrictions from March 29
This picture shows members of the public returning to Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales, today on the first day coronavirus restrictions are eased allowing people in Wales to travel
Despite the excitement ahead of ‘Happy Monday’, police chiefs doubled down on their enforcing of the rules and warning Britons not to go wild. The sun rises over Ely Cathedral in Cambridgshire this morning
Mr Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, warned people not to think: ‘I’m only breaching it a little bit.’ He said police would still be out dishing out fines where needed and reminding people of the rules. Pictured: Rustington beach during sunrise, West Sussex
Ministers are looking at the possibility of using the NHS app to allow customers into pubs and restaurants if they have had the jab or a negative test. Pictured: West Sussex this morning
Mr Jenrick also said that shops would be able to stay open until 10pm six days a week to turbocharge the high street. Pictured: West Sussex this morning
Despite the sun in the south, Cumbria was spattered with a blanket of snow this morning, with the A66 in Brough surrounded in white
The clocks may go forward this weekend, but the seasons have turned backwards with heavy snow near the A66 in Brough, in Cumbria, this morning
The clocks may go forward this weekend, but the seasons have turned backwards with heavy snow showers leading to difficult driving conditions on the A66 in Brough, Cumbria, this morning
The Government is extending flexible working hours on construction sites, allowing food deliveries to supermarkets over more time periods, and keeping the flexibility for pubs and restaurants to erect marquees to help increase seating capacity in a Covid-secure way. Pictured: Snow in Cumbria this morning
A lorry drives down the A66 in Brough, Cumbria, as some parts of the north were coated in snow this morning despite sun in the south
From Monday, all couples can marry, but only six people may attend and there can be no reception. From April 12, 15 people may go to a wedding and there can be receptions for 15 guests in outdoor venues, but not in private gardens.
Record numbers of Britons are buying motorhomes for staycations, leading to a shortage of vehicles. As the pandemic threatens overseas holidays, motorhome dealers are facing huge demand.
Alistair Norman, of Revolution Campervans in Northamptonshire, dealt with 20 enquiries a week before the pandemic – now it’s 500 a day.
He said: ‘Demand has gone up exponentially.’ Karl Pearce, of KTG Caravans and Campers in Staffordshire, said buyers were waiting up to six months, adding: ‘It’s crazy. Prices have shot up.’
The Caravan and Motorhome Club said a record number of members joined last month. The National Caravan Council says there are 225,000 motorhomes in Britain – and sales have tripled since 2000.