LONDON: Eight beaches were shut in Bournemouth this morning amid fears of overcrowding as Britain could have its hottest day on record today with Saharan air pushing temperatures above 100F (38C) for the second time in a week.
The mercury is expected to hit at least 99F (37C) in London and the South East today, with a chance that last Friday’s 100F (37.8C) recorded at London Heathrow Airport – the UK’s third-hottest day ever – could be broken.
Temperatures could even climb above the all-time UK record of 101.7F (38.7C), which was set last July. But unlike last Friday, when cloud and drizzle followed, this time the heatwave is here to stay until at least Tuesday.
Bournemouth council warned as early as 10am that eight beaches were already categorised as ‘avoid, social distancing not possible’ on the Dorset coast – including Sandbanks, Mudeford, Highcliffe and Durley Chine.
Further north and west, temperatures is still due to reach 82F (28C) today, with fine weather expected into next week and continuing through the first half of August, albeit with a risk of downpours and thunderstorms.
With daily highs in the South poised to remain above 30C (86F) until Tuesday, forecasters say it is the first official heatwave – lasting at least three days – since July 2019, when the UK record temperature was set in Cambridge.
The Met Office said there was a 30 per cent chance that today would be Britain’s hottest day of the year so far, and a 10 per cent chance that it could be the UK’s warmest day ever recorded.
Met Office meteorologist Grahame Madge said: ‘Whether we will see the hottest day of the year is on a knife edge. However, this will be a longer spell of warm weather compared with what we had last week.
Meteorologically, it will be a heatwave. There is a strong signal of a thundery breakdown at some stage next week but that’s not likely before early on Tuesday.’
Mr Madge said that while the warmest weather is expected in the South East today and tomorrow, the hottest areas over the latter half of the weekend could be Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset.
Temperatures are expected to fall back towards the mid-70Fs (mid-20Cs) in the North and Wales.
The very hot conditions, which have been caused by air warming up over France before being drawn north, have led to health warnings.
Britain has never recorded two days with temperatures over 99F (37C) in the same year since records began.
Parts of the South of England are even expected to be hotter than the Caribbean, with highs of 91F (33C) in Jamaica and 84F (29C) Barbados.
The Met Office has also issued a level-three heat health alert which warns Britons to look out for the elderly, vulnerable and young children.
There are also fears tourists flocking to coastal hotspots will ignore social distancing rules and cram on to packed seafronts in scenes similar to last weekend – risking further spread of coronavirus.
The Met Office warned people in South East England to close curtains on rooms facing the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler, drink plenty of fluids, avoid excess alcohol, dress appropriately and ‘slow down when it is hot’.
It comes as the staycation boom continues, with Britons flocking to seasides across the UK and Halfords reporting a sales surge in camping equipment since lockdown was lifted on July 4 – with gas stoves up 300 per cent, cool boxes up 180 per cent, airbeds up 130 per cent, roofboxes up 165 per cent and camping chairs up 120 per cent.
The RNLI has urged families heading to the beach this week to be aware of potential dangers as the UK braces itself for a potential heatwave.
Last Friday, on the hottest day of the year so far, The Coastguard reported its busiest day for more than four years as it dealt with more than 300 incidents.
Ahead of this week’s sunny spell, Gareth Morrison, RNLI head of water safety, said: ‘Our coastline is a fantastic place to spend time together as a family, especially when the sun is out and it’s hot.
‘But there are also plenty of potential dangers, especially for those who aren’t fully aware of their surroundings and may be visiting a particular beach for the first time.
‘We are advising everyone planning a visit to a beach or the coast to follow (the) beach safety advice.’
The mercury hit 86.2F (30.1C) at Wisley in Surrey yesterday – the UK high for the day – before London has temperatures of 100F (38C) today, 93F (34C) tomorrow and 90F (32C) on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
But the RNLI has warned of ‘plenty of potential dangers’ amid an expected rush to the beaches during the UK’s staycation surge which has been boosted by foreign holidays being in doubt due to coronavirus restrictions.
The heat is from southerly winds moving from Europe and parts of northern Africa and is expected to stay around well into next week, although it may then be replaced by thunderstorms by next Wednesday.
The heatwave threshold is three days over 82F (28C) in London and 77F (25C) in most other parts of the UK.
Today will peak in the 90-100Fs (high-30Cs) around East Anglia, Kent and London, while up to 84F (29C) is expected in Manchester and Liverpool. The heat could generate showers but these will be light and fleeting.
A Met Office spokesman said: ‘It is the result of southerly winds moving from Europe and parts of northern Africa, which will push the temperatures up.
‘It’s pretty unusual to get two successive events like this within a week of each other with such high temperatures.’
However, there was concern about the impact of the warm spell on vulnerable groups.
A level three heat health alert came into force from yesterday covering all of Southern England, London and East Anglia, valid until Tuesday.
The alert, issued by the Met Office in conjunction with Public Health England, advises precautions for elderly people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions.
It states: ‘Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.
After additional lockdown laws were introduced in Manchester among other northern locations on Wednesday, Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, chastised venues that had reportedly broken the rules.
‘Over the past week, I have heard of numerous pubs, bars and restaurants who have been squeezing customers in, flouting social distancing rules, ignoring contact tracing and actively persuading mixed groups not to cancel bookings,’ he said.
‘These venues clearly have a disregard for the safety of both their customers and their staff, and I support our Mayor Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Police in taking action over repeat breaches in these venues.
‘It’s also crucial that the general public takes responsibility too. We must work together to show venues that we will not stand for those who break the rules. If you feel uncomfortable, or that an establishment does not have the right procedures in place, then I urge you to take your booking elsewhere.’
Mr Lord’s words of warning come after an outbreak at a bar in Aberdeen was confirmed to have led to dozens of positive tests.
New lockdown measures came into force at 5pm on Wednesday, forcing all pubs, bars and restaurants in the Aberdeen City Council area to again close their doors.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council meanwhile sent teams to visit three pubs as well as a city centre venue on Monday after reports of overcrowding in bars, a lack of social distancing and packed queues.
‘Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol, dress appropriately for the weather and slow down when it is hot.’
Public Health England also advised people to stay cool indoors by closing curtains that face the sun and ensuring pets or children are not kept in vehicles.
Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, consultant in public health at Public Health England, said: ‘This summer, many of us are spending more time at home due to Covid-19. A lot of homes can overheat, so it’s important we continue to check on older people and those with underlying health conditions, particularly if they’re living alone and may be socially isolated.’
Elderly people are among the most vulnerable to hot weather, with advice telling them to contact neighbours if they are living alone, to try to stay indoors during the afternoon and to carry a bottle of water when out.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘We want older people to continue to enjoy the warm weather but, if it becomes uncomfortably hot, we advise some sensible precautions, particularly for anyone who has breathing problems or a heart condition.
‘It’s a good idea to remain indoors during the worst of the heat during the day. It’s also advised to wear thin, light clothing, drink plenty of fluids and to eat normally, but perhaps more cold food than usual, particularly salads and fruit which contain a lot of water and help us stay hydrated.
‘We know that extreme heat can aggravate lung and heart conditions so our advice is to take care and if you are breathless, even after you have rested, to seek medical advice.’
Motorists looking to travel to seaside locations have been urged to ensure cooling systems are filled to the correct level, to look at the coolant date and to not overload their vehicle with luggage.
Breakdown experts Green Flag has predicted just under 127,000 breakdowns to occur between Friday and Wednesday, which translates to 15 breakdowns every minute.
Met Office chief meteorologist Dan Suri said: ‘Although much of the UK can expect a spell of warm and sunny weather lasting into early next week, it’s going to turn very hot for parts of England and Wales with temperatures widely reaching above 30C on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
‘Met Office heatwave criteria will be reached over East Anglia and southeast England. Friday is likely to be the hottest day with temperatures of 36C to 37C in parts of East and South East England. It’s possible temperatures could reach similar levels on Saturday, before falling slightly on Sunday.
‘There’s also a small chance temperatures could reach close to 38 Celsius in one or two spots in the southeast on Friday, but this will partly depend on the chance of cloud spreading in from the southwest during the afternoon.
Rising temperatures will make it ‘dangerous’ to be outside if more is not done to curtail climate change, claims expert
A health expert has warned that the UK’s rising temperatures – including the current heatwave – will make it ‘highly dangerous’ for people to be outside if more is not done to curtail climate change.
Ilan Kelman, Professor of Disasters and Health at University College London, said: ‘These temperatures are unfortunately in line with the expectations for heat under climate change, which is one of the most concerning health impacts.
‘Without stopping human-caused climate change, these levels of summer heat and humidity will become regular, making it highly dangerous for us to be outdoors and even indoors without continual cooling.
‘Air pollution can also worsen under heat with its knock-on health effects, such as for cancer and asthma.
‘Irrespective of urban heat islands and natural climate variabilities, the human signal in climate change is showing in these heat patterns.’
Heatwaves are extreme weather events, but the Met Office said it has found in recent years that climate change is making them more likely.
A study into the summer 2018 heatwave in the UK showed that it was 30 times more likely to occur now than in 1750 because of the higher concentration of carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – in the atmosphere.
As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, heatwaves of similar intensity are projected to become even more frequent, perhaps even as often as every other year.
The earth’s surface temperature has risen by 1C since the pre-industrial period of 1850 to 1900.
‘Along with hot weather by day, it will stay warm and humid overnight with temperatures remaining in the high teens and low 20Cs.’
The RNLI has called on beachgoers to follow water safety advice and adhere to social distancing. Last week, the charity carried out 30 rescues in one day on just one beach in Cornwall.
The incidents mainly involved bathers and body boarders caught in rip currents, going out of their depth and being cut off by the incoming tide.
Kitty Norman, water safety delivery support at the RNLI, said: ‘The beaches across the whole of the South West are extremely busy at the moment with both locals who are holidaying at home this year and an influx of visitors to the region.
‘The sheer volume of people making social distancing tricky is one thing to be conscious of before planning your trip to the beach.
‘You might choose to visit the beach at a quieter time of day, or choose a beach with more space, where you can still bathe between the flagged area, but spread out further when setting up camp for the day.
‘If you arrive at the beach and it is simply too crowded, consider moving on and spending your day elsewhere.
‘Checking the tide times is advised – as the tide comes in, it reduces the available space for people to spread out and leads to beaches getting more crowded.’
She also asked people to respect a two-metre distance when approaching lifeguards.
Large tides are still present this weekend, meaning the tide will flood in quickly. This will increase the amount of water moving around and raise the risk of stronger rip currents.
Steve Instance, water safety lead in the South West for the RNLI, said: ‘Rip current rescues are the most common incident the lifeguards deal with on our beaches, the strong currents can quickly sweep bathers out of their depth, which is when panic sets in.
‘Please use a beach with a lifeguard patrol, keep an eye on your family members and take a moment before arriving at the beach to understand not just what rip currents are, but how to react if you are caught in one or see someone else in trouble.’
Those caught in a rip current should not try to swim against it and should wade if they are able to stand. They should swim parallel to the shore until free and then head for the beach.
People who cannot swim should float by leaning back in the water, extending their arms and legs and resist the urge to thrash around.
Fire bridages are urging picnickers and beachgoers to take ‘the greatest care possible’ when lighting barbecues.
They are warning people against throwing cigarette ends into the undergrowth, and leaving glass bottles in direct sunlight which could spark a devasting blaze. They can act like a magnifying glass for the sun’s rays and can rapidly start a fire which rages out of control.
Though there has been rain in the last fortnight, the scorching sun has quickly dried out commons, heathlands, fields and woods. Many beaches have grasslands overlooking them which can catch light if barbecue sparks are whipped by the sea breezes.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue has been battling a huge blaze which swept through 14,000 square metres of Thetford Forest, the biggest mad-made pine forest in Britain. They said it had been started by a discarded glass bottle left in hot sunlight.
It is feared rare nightjars and other birds along with countless butterflies and other creatures could not escape the flames in time and were killed.
The brigade said a fleet of pumps, a water carrier, misting units and a drone had to be sent to deal with the fire. Columns of thick black smoke spiralled into the sky and could be seen from miles away.
Dave Goodrum, secretary of the Friends of Thetford Forest, said fires are ‘often down to people’s carelessness’. He added: ‘We would encourage people to take their litter home. If you’ve brought it with you, you’re perfectly capable of taking it home. on’t leave it behind.’
Anyone who sees a person in trouble should alert lifeguards or call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
In its longer-range forecast, the Met Office predicts a ‘good deal of fine and dry weather’ across the UK until mid-August – albeit with a risk of heavy showers and thunderstorms.
For the end of August and beginning of September, fine and dry weather is likely to continue in the South, where there could be some further ‘very warm spells’.
In Wales and northern England, there are likely to be ‘periods of dry and settled weather interspersed with occasional bouts of wetter and windy weather’.
The heatwave comes after some areas of northern England and Wales had very wet weather earlier this week bringing flooding.
On Tuesday, 54.5mm (2.15in) was recorded at Hazelrigg in Lancahire. It led to flooding in Lancaster on Wednesday, where 50 people had to be evacuated from their homes and firefighters had to pump water from roads and farmland.
In Pentre, a village in Rhondda, South Wales, homes were also flooded on Wednesday for the fourth time this year after heavy rain.
Local councils have made a plea for extra government funding to help improve safety at beaches to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading among visitors.
The Local Government Association said the ‘rush to the sun’ following easing of lockdown restrictions in recent weeks has become a serious challenge for councils responsible for beach safety.
It wants extra funding for ‘beach patrols, additional toilets and prominent signage’.
Council bosses are also urging people to ‘think carefully before travelling to beaches and to get in the habit of checking they are open and safe to visit’.
Earlier in the summer, Government ministers warned beaches may have to close if crowds of visitors were unable to follow rules on social distancing.
Richard Kemp, vice chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: ‘People will understandably want to enjoy the sunshine.
‘However, when large numbers of people head to the coast and tourist spots there is inevitably a risk of overcrowding and an increase in the rate at which COVID-19 could be transmitted.
‘Lives depend on all of us taking personal responsibility for our actions to avoid a resurgence of this deadly virus that puts further lives at risk.’
It comes after a YouGov poll found 28 per cent of Britons plan to take a holiday in the UK this year – the equivalent of 19million people – while only 9 per cent will go abroad and a further 49 per cent do not intend on holidaying.
While the warmest weather is expected in the South East today and tomorrow, the hottest areas over the latter half of the weekend could be Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset +52
While the warmest weather is expected in the South East today and tomorrow, the hottest areas over the latter half of the weekend could be Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset
And the warm weather will concern local authorities in areas such as Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Sussex which can expect another huge influx of holidaymakers as people in the UK shun foreign trips to go on staycations.
Beleaguered Cornish residents reported over the weekend how the popular county had turned into ‘Benidorm on steroids’ as floods of visitors left them too scared to leave their homes.
Meanwhile Thanet District Council in Kent begged people to avoid four of the area’s beaches – including the popular Margate’s Main Sands – due to the number of visitors.
And a drunken fight broke out on the seafront in Brighton last Saturday night as two women went toe-to-toe and others cheered and ignored social distancing.
Over the weekend, street marshals were deployed in Cornwall as tourists poured down narrow streets and flouted social-distancing rules – despite clear warning signs in place.
Cornwall Council slammed the ‘ignorant’ visitors who descended on beauty spots without their face masks, as Britons elsewhere appeared to ignore social distancing rules while gathering at bars.
‘If we need to take action we will not hesitate’: Rishi Sunak warns travellers amid fears FRANCE could be the next holiday destination to face UK curbs due to rising coronavirus cases
Rishi Sunak delivered a stark warning to Britons today amid fears France could be the next holiday destination to face coronavirus curbs.
Amid rising cases across much of the continent, the Chancellor warned that travellers needed to be aware that the situation was under ‘constant review’ and there was the ‘risk’ of disruption.
He said the government ‘will not hesitate’ to take action by imposing restrictions on flows from countries if necessary.
The intervention came amid claims France is ‘highly likely’ to be added to the 14-day quarantine list following a dramatic rise in infections.
The number of daily coronavirus cases in the country has soared in recent days, with 1,695 new infections being recorded just yesterday, as it battles a second wave of Covid-19.
Any move by the UK could force Britons to cancel or cut short their trips to avoid the two-week quarantine on their return.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced last night that the Bahamas, Andorra and Belgium are being taken off the UK’s quarantine-exemption list with little more than 24 hours’ notice.
In a round of interviews on a visit to Scotland this morning, Mr Sunak said: ‘It’s a tricky situation. What I can say to people is we are in the midst of a global pandemnic, and that means there is always the risk of disruption to travel plans. People need to bear that in mind.
‘It is the right thing for us to do to keep everything under review on a constant basis to be talking with our scientists, our medical advisers.
‘If we need to take action, as you have seen overnight, we will not hesitate to do that. But in the meantime people should just continue to look at the guidance and take everything into account.’
It is thought that if the decision is made to add France to the list, thousands of British holidaymakers may cancel their trips in order to avoid the two-week quarantine. Pictured: Beach-goers in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France, yesterday +52
It is thought that if the decision is made to add France to the list, thousands of British holidaymakers may cancel their trips in order to avoid the two-week quarantine. Pictured: Beach-goers in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France, yesterday
The developments in France come after its scientific committee stated earlier this week that the situation was ‘under control, but precarious. We could at any moment tip into a scenario that is less under control.’
It added: ‘The short term future of the pandemic mainly lies in the hands of the population. It is highly likely that we will experience a second epidemic wave this autumn or winter.’
The statement said the virus ‘has recently been circulating more actively, with an increased loss of distancing and barrier measures’ since France emerged from its strict two-month lockdown in May.
‘The balance is fragile and we can change course at any time to a less controlled scenario like in Spain for example,’ it said.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘Unless France takes further significant steps to reduce its case numbers, then it’s highly likely to be added later next week as the increase must be causing worries in Westminster.
‘There are several hundred thousand British tourists in France at the moment so the government must give plenty of warning if it does change its advice later next week.’
The uptick in infections in France has been bolstered by fresh coronavirus testing troubles as dozens of labs closed to allow staff a summer holiday despite signs that a second wave is building.
Doctors have warned that the vacation crunch is just part of a larger web of failures in France’s testing strategy which was described earlier this week by the government’s own virus advisory panel as disorganized and ‘insufficient’.
‘First, there is a lack of workers to do the testing. If we don’t ask all the health workers to be available by mobilizing all of them, there are just not enough people,’ emergency services doctor Christophe Prudhomme at a hospital in Bobigny, Paris.
‘And then it’s a matter of organization,’ he said, urging regional health agencies ‘to organize testing so that it’s not the citizen who has to take his phone and try to call seven or eight labs in order to get an appointment that will take place only next week.’
It is worrying news for the country which saw its hospitals nearly drown with Covid-19 patients in the first wave – in part due to inadequate testing.
The country has already lost more than 30,300 lives to the pandemic and yesterday alone recorded 1,695 new infections.
A decision by the Government is expected to be announced within the next 24 hours after ministers consider the latest data as part of their weekly review of quarantine.
Travellers from France could soon face a 14 days of self-isolation on their return to the UK following a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases. Pictured: Tourists wearing face masks in Brittany earlier this week
Meanwhile, the Bahamas, Andorra and Belgium will be taken off the UK’s quarantine-exemption list.
Mr Shapps said people arriving in Britain from the three nations will have to quarantine from 4am on Saturday.
In a tweet he said: ‘Data shows we need to remove Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas from our list of coronavirus Travel Corridors in order to keep infection rates DOWN.
‘If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.’
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has designated all Belgium as a ‘code orange’ for the new coronavirus, meaning the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants is 20 or above for two weeks.
Separately, Malaysia and Brunei have been added to the UK’s safe list
It comes after travellers from Belgium were also told they could face quarantine for 14 days following a dramatic rise in coronavirus infections there. Pictured: People wearing face masks walk through the shopping district of Brussels earlier this week +52
It comes after travellers from Belgium were also told they could face quarantine for 14 days following a dramatic rise in coronavirus infections there. Pictured: People wearing face masks walk through the shopping district of Brussels earlier this week
In Wales, the restrictions come into force from midnight tonight August 6.
Belgium has suffered a consistent increase in cases in recent weeks, rising to 27.8 new cases per 100,000 people.
This towers over the UK’s latest rate of 8.4 per 100,000, and is higher than Spain’s 27.4 level around the time when the UK introduced travel restrictions there.
Belgium’s prime minister, Sophie Wilmes, was last week forced to put a halt to the nation’s Covid-19 exit plan by introducing drastic new social distancing measures in the hope of avoiding a new national lockdown.
Contacts outside every household were limited to the same five people for a month, in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.
In Andorra, new cases per week have increased five-fold since mid-July, while in The Bahamas the weekly case rate peaked at 78.6 last week, up from 3.1 in the middle of last month.
The countries follow Spain – which was put on the quarantine list a fortnight ago, wrecking the holiday plans of millions – and Luxembourg, which was added last week.
The biweekly map shows how most countries in Europe have reported between a 25 and 200 per cent increase in cases in the past two weeks
The British Government has been under pressure to introduce airport coronavirus tests for arrivals.
Ministers are looking at whether people coming to the UK from at-risk countries such as the US and Spain could be given tests to reduce the number of days they have to quarantine for.
And the boss of Heathrow airport has proposed a double-testing regime that would see passengers tested at their point of entry to the country, and again five to eight days later.
If given the all clear in both tests, they would no longer be required to stay at home for 14 days and could go back to normal life.