Brits flock to parks on sunny first weekend of second lockdown

Brits flock to parks on sunny first weekend of second lockdown thumbnail

Parks and open spaces were busy across the country as people enjoyed an unseasonably warm first Saturday of the second lockdown. 

Under new coronavirus rules in England people are only allowed to meet one other person from outside their household in public spaces.

They can still socialise outdoors with people they live with and picnics and sitting on park benches are allowed this time around.

Pictures showed parks full of people exercising or sitting in small groups on Saturday afternoon as many made the most of the chance to spend time with others.

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New restrictions introduced on Thursday have shut all non-essential businesses and people are being told to stay at home except for ‘essential reasons.’

In contrast to the first lockdown, exercise is being encouraged and there are no limits on how much time can be spent outdoors. 

Spurred on by balmy November temperatures, people packed parks in their droves while cafes and pubs that have remained open for takeaways enjoyed swift business. 

Meanwhile, scientists have defended the introduction of the second lockdown, despite admitting graphs used to justify the decision were out-of-date. 

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said it would not be sustainable for the health service to deal with the levels of coronavirus cases and hospitalisations without tougher measures than those imposed under the three-tier system.

But he said information shown at last Saturday’s press conference suggesting a possible peak of 4,000 deaths a day was a ‘mess’.

Sir David, from the University of Cambridge, told BBC Radio’s 4 Today programme: ‘The infections are really broadly stable… but that stability covers up two things.

‘It looks like the tiers have been working but slowly, and it looks like not enough really to bring R down well below 1 and, crucially, to bring down the number of people who have actually got it.

‘If this is going to go down, it is going to go down very slowly unless some dramatic action is taken, which has been taken.

‘The point is we are getting about 20-25,000 positive tests a day, that feeds through to about 1,500 hospitalisations a day, about 250-300 deaths a day and these are broadly stable but going up a bit – the deaths in hospitals and hospitalisations are going up slowly – and we are coming into winter.

‘Those sorts of levels, even if they stay very stable and below the first peak of the virus, unless they start dropping, we are stuck with those for months and it seems to me and others that that’s not going to be sustainable in terms of what the health service can deal with.’

Reflecting on the presentation of data at the press conference last weekend in which the Prime Minister announced the new lockdown, Sir David said: ‘It has been a mess, it really has.

‘All those graphs that got put up at the press conference last Saturday, the projections were out of date at the time, they’re definitely out of date now.

‘That one (the slide about 4,000 deaths) was really ghastly – that was out of date when shown. It was never meant to be part of any formal document, it was leaked early and then it was part of the briefing to MPs.’

Sir David said projections did have some ‘validity’ but need to be ‘taken with extreme caution’ because they could often be out of date by the time they are shown.

Another 24,957 people in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours. It brings the country’s total number of cases since the pandemic began to 1,171,441. 

The latest figures also show 413 more people have died within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the Government’s official death toll to 48,888.

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