People in England flock to beaches following easing of lockdown restrictions as UK enjoys hottest day of the year

People in England made the most of their new found freedom and flocked to beaches and parks as the UK looked set to enjoy the hottest day of the year so far.

Parts of the UK were set to see temperatures of 28C (82.4F) on Wednesday, looking to beat the 2020 record set on Tuesday at London’s St James’s Park when the mercury hit a high of 26.2C (79.16F).

Lockdown restrictions were eased in England on Sunday 10 May allowing people to sunbathe, picnic and drive to beauty spots to enjoy "unlimited exercise".

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland remain under stricter restrictions.

People sunbathing in London Fields. Credit: PA

Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said: “There will be a bit of a grey, misty start for some first thing but that will quickly burn away.

“The vast majority of the UK will have a dry day with sunny spells, if not blue skies all day for some.”

He predicted the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures in the 20s and highs of 28C in the London area.

A woman works outside as the temperature soars. Credit: PA

In normal circumstances, the tourism industry would be basking in the economic boost brought on by the hot weather.

But with pubs and restaurants still closed under lockdown restrictions, and travel limited to day trips, the tourism industry is set to lose billions as a result.

Tourism bosses have called for an extra bank holiday in October to help to extend the season beyond the usual summer months to allowing the industry to scrape back some of the lost revenue, but Downing Street said extra bank holidays “come with economic costs”.

Patricia Yates, acting chief executive at Visit Britain, said 2020 has to be the “year of domestic tourism” but there will be a serious challenge in convincing people it is safe to travel.

She told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee there is a “a real job to be done there in convincing people that it’s socially responsible to travel and enjoy a holiday, and that it’s safe to do so”.

Socially distance sunbathing in Greenwich Park, London. Credit: PA

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has muted informal plans for a four day week and other flexible working options as a way to boost tourism in the country.

The country’s tourism market has suffered hugely amid the pandemic with all borders remaining closed to foreign nationals.