People ignoring the government’s social distancing instructions to stop the spread of coronavirus are “very selfish”, according to health secretary Matt Hancock.
Videos and photos emerged yesterday of people gathering in parks across the country, including Richmond Park in London.
Busy scenes were also snapped at East London’s Columbia Road Flower Market.
This is despite government instructions to only exercise individually and to keep a two-metre distance from other people in order to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Hancock lashed out at people flouting the social distancing measures and said it may force the government to enact more draconian limitations, such has been seen in other European countries.
“It’s very selfish,” he said.
“The NHS is doing everything it can and preparing for the spread of this virus.
“If people go within two metres of others who they don’t live with then they’re helping to spread the virus – and the consequences of that costs lives and it means that, for everyone, this will go on for longer.”
Calls grew louder yesterday from some quarters for stricter enforcing of social distancing, through police force, or a complete ban on going outside except for essential tasks.
Boris Johnson pleaded with people to follow the government’s orders, adding that he did not want to enforce stricter rules on people.
“It is very important for people’s mental and physical well-being that they should be able to get out and exercise if they possibly can,” he said.
“You’ve got to do this in line with the advice, you’ve got to follow the social distancing rule, keep 2 metres apart.
“Otherwise if you don’t do it responsibly, if you don’t exercise responsibly in the parks and green spaces then there is going to be no doubt we will have to bring forward further measures and we are keeping that under constant review.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was more blunt with his words yesterday.
He told the BBC that if Londoners did not stay home that “more people will die”.
“Unless people stay at home, unless people stop using public transport unless it’s essential, unless people stop interacting with each other, more people will die,” he said.
The UK now has 5,683 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 281 deaths as of 9am yesterday.