A FIFTH of Brits have spent weeks meeting pals before lockdown rules were eased, with Matt Hancock warning the UK could return “to square one”.
Last night, police chiefs said that people were becoming blasé about social distancing as the health secretary pleaded with the public to be sensible this weekend.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
According to data released by Google, the British public have been sneaking off to meet with friends and family in parks before Boris Johnson eased lockdown restrictions.
The data compared footfall detected in green spaces from the number of mobile devices detected in certain places.
Every day between May 4 and May 8, more and more people headed out to sit in the sunshine with footfall reaching 16 percent above the baseline on May 6 and 7 – the highest since the UK went into lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics revealed today that almost one in five adults are meeting up with their friends or family from outside of their household.
The UK plunged into lockdown on March 23 and then on May 10, the government lifted some restrictions.
Ministers fear that this relaxed attitude to the handling of the deadly pandemic could bring a second wave of Covid-19 and take us back to square one.
With the combination of a Bank Holiday weekend, the start of half-term and temperatures hitting 22C, the government has pleaded with the public to obey the two-metre distance rule this weekend.
Speaking at the Downing Street press conference, Matt Hancock said: “Let’s not go back to square one.
“We can all play our part in the national effort.”
A senior police chief said that the guidance was to stay two metres apart and meet only one other person was being ignored since the slight lifting of lockdown rules in the country.
Speaking to The Times, a chief constable said: “I think people no longer understand what they can do, or they think it is no longer important.”
Over the recent snap of hot weather, the UK’s beaches and beauty spots were flooded with families and friends enjoying the unlimited sunshine after Boris Johnson abandoned the one hour of outdoor exercise restriction.
Another senior officer said there was “no doubt at all” that Brits had started to relax and the guidance around meeting one person from outside the household was “forgotten shortly after the words were spoken.”
With half-term kicking off tomorrow, thousands of children who have been stuck indoors working on school work will be itching to get out in the sunshine.
Ramadan also comes to an end this weekend, meaning families will be celebrating Eid.
Mr Hancock said: “I hope people can enjoy Eid celebrations but I know they’ll be different from usual.”
The new rules revealed on May 10 stated that Brits could enjoy unlimited outdoor time, with inner-city households given the ability to enjoy outdoor space for more than hour a day for the first time in weeks.
People are also allowed to meet with one other person from another household so long as they stay outside and keep two metres apart.
Visiting friends or relatives at their homes or in large groups is still banned with fines being issued to those caught breaking the rules.
The government is monitoring the ‘R rate’ closely and basing lockdown restrictions on the number.
The R rate is used to indicate the speed the virus is spreading.
The number is not fixed, it can be altered by a range of factors like public behaviour, which is why social distancing measures are so important at keeping the spread of the virus down.
It is currently estimated to be between 0.7 and 1.0 and needs to be kept below one.
Research on more than 90,000 people showed that “complete” compliance with safety measures has dropped in the past two weeks from an average of 70 percent of people to under 60 percent.
The University College London (UCL) study also found that compliance among young adults was less than 50 percent.
Police voiced alarm at the thousands of people travelling in large groups to beaches and green spaces with many roads around coastal areas becoming “gridlocked”.
most read in news
Drunk man tries to DROWN bear after breaking into its zoo enclosure in Poland
Cage-fighter ex charged with murdering mum, 32, in front of teen daughter
Arrivals to UK must quarantine for 2wks from June 8 & rule-breakers face £1k fine
Moment feral teens kick cop after being confronted over lockdown flouting
Gangster freed from jail for TWO MINUTES as he’s arrested at prison gates
Fairy Glen, a popular destination in Lancashire, was forced to close earlier this week after it became inundated with families and groups visiting.
Katy Bourne, chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners said: “There are no powers available to police that stop people from visiting the beach or beauty spots. Going into lockdown was a shock to our system but coming out was always going to be the challenge.
“The police are only there to uphold the law. They’re not out holding tape measures, that’s not the police’s job to do.
“The police aren’t there to enforce social distancing because the law doesn’t allow it. We are asking people to be socially responsible.”