Britons today flocked to parks and beaches to bask in glorious sunshine as 59F (15C) temperatures hit the UK – after the public was yesterday urged to stick to Covid lockdown rules amid the early Spring weather.
Police yesterday warned the public that they would be on patrol this weekend to ensure people were still abiding by the restrictions after huge crowds were out last week, with Sussex Police tweeting: ‘Don’t stop now.’
The South of England and East of Scotland will enjoy the best of the conditions with wall-to-wall sunshine expected until Sunday, and highs of 59F (15C) and 57F (14C) forecast today in London and Aberdeenshire.
Those in Southampton and Norwich will also enjoy the best of Britain’s warm weather, with the mercury expected to reach between 53F (12C) and 57F (14C) widely across the UK – after temperatures dropped as low as -4C overnight.
However, not all the country will enjoy the pleasant weather today, with a cloudy outlook for Northern Ireland, western and southern Scotland – and 36 flood alerts or warnings still in place for England and Wales.
The widespread sunshine will continue throughout Sunday, but forecasters have warned the weekend will mark the last of Britain’s early Spring as temperatures are expected to drop into single figures from Monday.
It comes after the deputy chief medical officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam yesterday urged Britons not to ‘relax’ as the UK heads into a glorious weekend, warning that ‘this is not a battle that we have won yet’.
Addressing a Downing Street press briefing on Friday, he warned the public ‘do not wreck this now’ as some areas of the UK are ‘burning quite hot’ in terms of coronavirus infections.
Britain yesterday recorded another 8,523 coronavirus infections and 345 deaths – with both measures down by roughly a third week-on-week. More than 520,000 vaccines were also dished out, with nearly 19.2million Britons now vaccinated.
Pictured: Hundreds of Britons gather on the Hove beachfront in East Sussex today during the weekend of warm weather
The South of England and East of Scotland will enjoy the best of the conditions with wall-to-wall sunshine expected today and Sunday, and highs of 57F (14C) forecast today in London and Aberdeenshire
Pictured: People gather on the beach at Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth, Hampshire today as the weather stays warm
People took to the beach at the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth to soak up the last of the sun before the weather turns next week
Pictured: Britons enjoy the sunshine in Greenwich Park, south east London today as temperatures soar to 59F (15C)
Britons were also pictured taking a stroll through Greenwich Park in south east London during the sunny spell today
Families enjoy the sunshine together in Greenwich Park, south east London as temperatures are set to hit 59F in London
Pictured: Britons enjoy the sunny weather on Hampstead Heath, London today as the capital is expected to see temperatures of 59F (15C)
England and Wales has enjoyed a very mild week for the time of year with the warmth on a par with Malaga and Barcelona as Suffolk recorded 65.1F (18.4C) on Wednesday, which was even above the average maximum for May.
Britons today flocked to Hampstead Heath in north London and the Hove beachfront to make the most of the sunshine, after the Beast from the East II brought heavy snow and sub-zero daytime temperatures to much of the UK at the start of this month.
Open spaces were also busy with people doing their daily exercise, which is still permitted during the lockdown – before one-plus-one social meetings outside are allowed from March 8 and the rule of six outdoors from March 29.
Meteorologist Tom Morgan today told MailOnline the UK will experience temperatures well above the average for February throughout the weekend, with highs of 53F (12C) and 57F (14C) expected widely across Britain.
He added the warm weather will end abruptly on Monday, when cold air rising from Scandinavia will bring temperatures back to single figures for much of the UK.
‘It is relatively mild at the moment, we’re still in winter and average temperatures tend to vary from around 9C in the South to 7C in the North. But by daytime today and tomorrow we’ll be seeing highs of 12C and 14C so it should feel relatively warm for the time of year.’
Mr Morgan said it will still feel cold overnight with frosts forecast in parts, adding a low of -4.1C was recorded in Benson, Oxfordshire overnight.
‘Tomorrow will be the last day of mild conditions before temperatures fall,’ he said. ‘It will potentially get very cold by the end of this week, as cold air rising from Scandinavia bringing temperatures back to single figures for most of the country.’
The mild and sunny weather expected over the weekend yesterday prompted warnings from several police forces, who urged Britons not to become complacent when following lockdown restrictions.
Sussex Police tweeted: ‘Don’t stop now!’ The force added it was concerned that ‘people may get complacent’ after ‘a long year of restrictions, falling infection rates, the vaccine rollout, better weather and the roadmap out of lockdown earlier this week’.
West Midlands Police said it was ‘lovely weather for a walk’ and thanked people in a wood for complying with the guidelines, while South Wales Police acknowledged it could be ‘tough’ to follow the rules in good weather.
Pictured: Britons on Hampstead Heath this morning ahead of a weekend of warm weather in London
Pictured: People were out early in north London today as they made the most of the warm weather before it grinds to a halt on Monday
Pictured: A runner in Hampstead Heath, north London today as the mercury is expected to hit 59F (15C) in the capital
Pictured: Britons take an early dip in the sea at Branksome Beach, Dorset today ahead of a warn weekend across the UK
Pictured: Early morning swimmers enjoy the sunrise at Cullercoats Bay in North Tyneside this morning, heralding the start of a weekend of Spring sunshine
Pictured: A spectacular sunrise with the shadows of the ruined towers on the mist surrounding Corfe Castle in Dorset today
Pictured: Paddleboarders watch the sunrise in Cullercoats Bay, North Tyneside, on the North East coast on Saturday
Pictured: Anna Heslop, 25, and her dog Merlin paddleboarding at sunrise in Cullercoats Bay, North Tyneside, on the North East coast of England
A herd of roaming deer are seen in fields in Playhatch, Oxfordshire ahead of a weekend of warm Spring weather
Those in Southampton and Norwich will also enjoy the best of Britain’s warmer Spring weather, with the mercury expected to reach between 51F (11C) and 57F (14C) widely across the UK after a frosty start in parts. Pictured: Playhatch, Oxfordshire
Police forces yesterday warned the public that they would be on patrol this weekend to ensure people were still abiding by the restrictions, with Sussex Police noting concerns over ‘complacency’ and saying on Twitter: ‘Don’t stop now’
Met Office forecaster Aidan McGivern said today will begin with ‘a few mist and fog patches’ for England and Wales before transforming into a ‘beautiful sunny day’, with cloudy patches expected south of Cumbria.
He said: ‘Temperatures reaching 11C to 14C, with warm spots in London and eastern Scotland.
The mild weather will continue into Sunday, when temperatures will drop slightly to highs of 55F (13C) following a morning of widespread low cloud, mist and fog for those in northern England and southern Scotland.
‘However, by the afternoon most places will brighten up with long spells of sunshine for many and it’s going to feel pleasant with light winds and temperatures once again widely above average,’ Mr McGivern added.
Pictured: Dog walkers brave the frost in Clayfield Copse, Berkshire today ahead of a weekend of warm weather
Pictured: Dozens of students gathered on the Exeter quayside in the city centre on Friday, drinking beer and cider
Pictured: The young people were seen drinking tins of beer and cider as the sun set in Exeter, Devon on Friday
The gathering in Exeter came regardless of lockdown restrictions in England which prohibit large groups meeting
‘I think 11C to 13C so perhaps a degree or so lower compared to Saturday.’
The warm, southerly airflow bringing the mild weather since the start of last week has also been responsible for dramatic, vivid red sunrises particularly in the East after blowing Saharan dust north from Africa.
The all-time monthly record temperature of 70.2F (21.2C) was set in London on February 26, 2019. The average UK daily high for February is 43.9F (6.6C), while the same figure for May is 58.6F (14.8C). Meteorological spring officially begins next Monday.
Ahead of the warm weather, Professor Van-Tam yesterday warned that coronavirus cases are rising in dozens of parts of England, with around one in five noting increases mainly in the Midlands and the North.
He has called for the UK to ‘hold our nerve’, adding: ‘I do worry that people think it’s all over. The more they think that when it’s not, the greater the headwind they’re going to give to the vaccine programme and the more at risk will become the milestones set on the road map.’
His ‘sobering’ warnings came as the latest data confirmed Britain’s Covid outbreak is still firmly in retreat, with a catalogue of official figures piling even more pressure on Boris Johnson to relax lockdown measures sooner.
Department of Health bosses recorded another 8,523 coronavirus infections and 345 deaths – with both measures down by roughly a third week-on-week. More than 520,000 vaccines were also dished out, with nearly 19.2million Britons now vaccinated.
It comes after the deputy chief medical officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam yesterday urged Britons not to ‘relax’ as the UK heads into a glorious weekend, warning that ‘this is not a battle that we have won yet’
No10’s top scientific advisory panel SAGE estimated the R rate – the average number of people each Covid patient infects – is still at the lowest level since records began in June, staying between 0.6 and 0.9.
Separate statistics from one of the country’s most respected surveillance studies showed England’s outbreak has nearly halved in size over the last fortnight.
Office for National Statistics experts estimated 373,700 people would test positive for the virus on any given day in the week ending February 19, or one in 145 residents. In comparison, the figure was almost 700,000 two weeks ago.
But a weekly report from a symptom-tracking app yesterday warned daily cases had risen three per cent in a week, to 9,545 in the seven-day spell ending February 21.
SAGE also estimated the R rate has crept up slightly in the South East, North West and the Midlands but insisted the figure is still below the crucial level of one.
Despite the troubling trend, one leading scientist urged Britons ‘not to panic’ because hospitalisations and Covid deaths were still falling – and said Number 10 was still on track to lift restrictions ‘sooner rather than later’ because the UK is in a similar position to last May.
Professor Tim Spector, the King’s College London epidemiologist who is behind the app, added: ‘The difference this time is, while the variants may be more infectious, we have a vaccine that works and the older age groups are largely protected.’