Huge crowd of beachgoers cram past 'do not travel for leisure' sign at Bournemouth train station

Joanna Taylor
Friday 26 June 2020 08:15
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(Twitter / Getty Images)

An enormous crowd of people were filmed walking through a train station on their way to the beach — right past a sign that says 'Do not travel for leisure'.

The bustling crowd was tightly packed together as they crossed a bridge at Bournemouth train station.

A banner running the length of the bridge reads 'Thank You Royal Bournemouth Hospital'.

Bournemouth's council said they were forced to instigate an emergency response to over-crowding, traffic gridlock and violence after hundreds of Brits flocked to the south coast.

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood estimated that half a million Brits flocked to the beach amid the heatwave.

Photos shared to social media show thousands of people packed tightly together — and tonnes of rubbish left at the beach.

But in spite of fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections, government ministers are reluctant to close the beaches.

Matt Hancock said on TalkRadio that he had the power to do so, but was "reluctant" as "people have had a pretty tough lockdown".

"We will take action" if there's a second spike in cases, he added.

Environment secretary George Eustice also expressed reluctance to close the beaches, instead urging people to follow social distancing guidelines.

Speaking to the BBC, he said:

We just have to recognise yesterday was the hottest day of the year, incredibly hot, a lot of people had the same idea, they all went to the beach, and yes of course those scenes at Bournemouth are a matter for concern.

The British weather being what it is maybe that will be short-lived and people will return to the type of social distancing they've actually demonstrated quite well.

But Bournemouth council leader Vikki Slade has warned that their services are "stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe". She said:

The numbers of people descending down here are like those seen on a bank holiday. We are not in a position to welcome visitors in these numbers now. Please do not come.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty has warned that coronavirus cases "will rise again" if social distancing guidelines are ignored.

The UK's official death toll from coronavirus is now 43,320, a rise of 149 since Wednesday.

The government are urging people to remain two metres apart, and only to visit the beach with members of their own household.

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