Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson – REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Mirror Online: LONDON, England: Crowds descended on beaches, parks and football grounds over the weekend, appearing to ignore the government’s lockdown pleas to remain at home.

Despite the freezing temperatures and the Prime Minister’s demands to only go out for essential journeys, many packed out busy parks as people struggled for space.

Hyde Park and Victoria Park in the capital were heaving – as were beaches and high streets up and down the country.

The first weekend of the new lockdown brought thousands out in Brighton as COVID marshals patrolled the seafront alongside police, sending many on their way.

People wrapped up warm in hats, gloves and scarves to brave the cold – despite instructions to stay inside.

 A further 563 people have died in the UK because of the coronavirus, it was confirmed on Sunday.

A total of 54,940 more positive tests were returned in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began to 3,072,349

Boris Johnson told people to stay at home as much as possible as the mutant strain of the virus rips through the UK.

That didn’t stop many as they took the opportunity to exercise outdoors once a day, as the government’s guidelines allow.

Crowds of people packed the beaches on TynesideImage: North News & Pictures
Beaches were busy on Sunday in TynemouthImage: North News & Pictures

Meanwhile, dozens of football fans appeared to break lockdown rules by gathering outside their team’s ground ahead of an FA Cup match.

Marine AFC supporters lined the streets of Crosby, Merseyside, prior to Tottenham Hotspur’s arrival yesterday.

Police officers were stationed outside the Non-League club’s tiny ground however no arrests were made, although some fans were told to follow social distancing.

Supporters line the streets to see the players arrive
Supporters waiting to see the players arrive in CrosbyImage: Andrew Teebay/Liverpool Echo
It was very busy in London’s Victoria Park on Saturday – Image: Marcin Nowak/LNP

In a now-deleted tweet Match of the Day shared pictures of the crowds, adding: “Spurs are in town. And look at the scene in Crosby.”

Many social media users slammed the BBC for being ‘irresponsible’ by appearing to celebrate the ‘scene’.

Merseyside Police confirmed the supporters had left the area by the evening. Tottenham won the tie 5-0.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to stay at home as the mutant strain of the virus rips through the countryImage: REUTERS

Over the weekend, new guidance was issued to chief constables as part of a tough new crackdown on those flouting the rules.

They state you are allowed to exercise in outdoor places including parks, beaches, forests, heritage sites, and playgrounds.

Today’s grim tally is more than 100 higher than last Sunday’s 455 – and is the third highest Sunday death toll since the start of the pandemic back in March.

A packed market in Portobello, Scotland on SundayImage: Alamy Live News
Scenes in Victoria Park on SaturdayImage: Marcin Nowak/LNP

Health Secretary Matt Hancock did not rule out lockdown rules being strengthened as the virus continues to rage out of control across the country.

He told the BBC: “I don’t want to speculate because the most important message is not whether the Government will further strengthen the rules.

“The most important thing is that people stay at home and follow the rules that we have got.

“And that, in terms of the scale of the impact on the cases, that is the most important thing we can do collectively as a society.”

People in Greenwich park in London on SundayImage: Grant Falvey/LNP

This morning, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty reiterated the stark messages to the public about the current situation in the NHS.

He said the public must “stay at home unless you absolutely have to” as the next few weeks will be “worst weeks of the pandemic”.

He added that normality will return in “months not years” as the UK ramped up its mass vaccination programme today.

Prof Whitty said he was confident we can go back to life as it was before at some point – although warned “we are quite a long way from that now”.

His words came as it emerged 170 bodies are being housed at a temporary mortuary in Surrey after the county’s hospitals ran out of space.

  • Top Feature Photo: Victoria Park in east London was packed at lunchtime – Image: Marcin Nowak/LNP