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The British government has pleaded with the public to continue observing social distancing guidelines after thousands packed England’s beaches on Thursday and thousands more celebrated Liverpool’s first championship in 30 years outside the club’s Anfield stadium.
Officials in southern England declared a “major incident” Thursday after crowds flocked to beaches in Bournemouth and Sandbanks, Dorset on the hottest day of 2020 so far.
The area was overrun with cars and sunbathers, leading to gridlock and the local council handed out 558 parking enforcement fines — a daily record.
Garbage crews also suffered abuse and intimidation as they tried to remove mountains of waste from the seafront and there were a number of incidents involving excessive alcohol and fighting.
“We want people to enjoy outside spaces and we want them to enjoy leisure facilities such as the beach but we also don’t want to see case numbers go up again, so we are asking people to obey social distancing guidelines,” a Downing Street spokesperson said Friday.
The UK government will consider closing the beaches if there is a “spike in infections,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned in an interview with British Talk Radio on Thursday evening.
“If we see a spike in the number of cases then we will take action,” the cabinet minister said.
Hancock asked the public to “keep following the social distancing [advice],” which remains in place “for a reason.”
“The virus doesn’t respect the fact that it’s a hot summer’s day, the virus spreads from social contact,” he said.
“That’s why we’ve still got social distancing in place” he added.
Hancock urged English people not to throw “away all that good work” but added he was reluctant to close beaches as “people have had a pretty tough lockdown.”
Britain is in the process of easing its lockdown restrictions, which have been in place since March.
Groups of up to six people can now meet outside in England. But on Friday Downing Street warned that if coronavirus case numbers increased, the government would put local lockdowns in place.
England’s beaches weren’t the only reason for Thursday’s crowds.
Thousands of Liverpool fans gathered outside the club’s Anfield stadium after Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Manchester City on Thursday handed the Merseyside club its first league title since 1990.
Supporters set off flares and fireworks, singing all the while, resulting in Merseyside Police closing off roads around the stadium at approximately 11 p.m. UK time, and advising motorists to “avoid the area.”
And although Assistant Chief Constable Rob Carden thanked the “overwhelming majority of fans” for recognizing that “now is not the time to gather together to celebrate,” he urged fans to avoid congregating and celebrate in their “social bubble.”
“Unfortunately, as we have seen throughout the lockdown period, not everyone adhered to the regulations in place. Although the vast majority of celebrations were good natured, a large number of people chose to gather outside the stadium,” Carden said in a statement.
“In the days ahead, we urge supporters to do the right thing and celebrate safely with members of your household and in your social bubble. By doing this you keep yourself, your family, friends and neighbours safe.
“As we all know, Merseyside has been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and we must all do what we can to prevent further cases and deaths in our communities.”
“We understand people will feel jubilant that Liverpool has secured the league title for the first time in 30 years, and the time will come when fans can return to Anfield to applaud the team and to celebrate their achievement.”
CNN has reached out to Liverpool for comment.