Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned Britons not to “blow it” ahead of what could be the UK’s hottest March day on record.
Met Office forecaster Alex Burkhill said it was a “possibility” that Wednesday’s temperatures could surpass the March record of 25.6C (78F), set in 1968 at Mepal in Cambridgeshire.
It comes as the mercury peaked at 24.5C (76.1F) at Kew Gardens in west London on Tuesday – the hottest March day in 53 years.
People have been making the most of sunny conditions across England after Monday’s easing of coronavirus rules which means groups of up to six, or two households, are now able to socialise in parks and gardens while outdoor sports facilities can reopen.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock issued a warning on Twitter on Tuesday evening, saying: “Let’s enjoy the sun but let’s do it safely. We have come so far, don’t blow it now.”
His comment comes after the Prime Minister said he hoped people would take advantage of the “beautiful weather” to play sport or exercise, while also emphasising the country should still “proceed with caution”.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick echoed Mr Hancock's message, urging people to enjoy the Easter weekend in a “sensible, cautious” manner, enjoying the sunshine but also being careful and sticking to the rules. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain the country remains on course to go ahead with the next stages of lockdown easing in England as set out in the government’s road map. “What we hope and expect to happen is that we can continue moving forwards through the road map and that this will be an irreversible opening up of society and the economy,” he said. “The prime minister has said that everything we have learned over the course of the last year means that there are no absolute guarantees, but there is no evidence today to suggest that we are off track, that we won’t be able to move forwards with the road map and meet the targets we have set ourselves.”
Mr Burkill said: “Temperatures could be a touch higher tomorrow (Wednesday) than they were today. Whether it will beat the 25.6C, I’m not so sure. It’s on a knife-edge.”
“It’s not out of the question, but I’m not expecting it to. It’s a possibility.”
Temperatures are forecast to hit 24C (75.2F) to 25C (77F), with the highest figures expected around London.
The Met Office earlier tweeted there would be “exceptional warmth” and “massive” temperature contrasts as the month comes to a close.
Mr Burkill said: “The warmth is going to be very widespread across the bulk of England and Wales.
“Northern Ireland and many parts of Scotland will be cooler by tomorrow, so a little bit fresher.
“For most, it will be largely sunny, with a few bits of fair-weather cloud in England and Wales.
“In Northern Ireland and Scotland, it will be cloudier with a band of rain edging its way southwards.”
Temperatures are forecast to drop in the east of England from Thursday, with the mercury only “scraping into double figures”, Mr Burkhill said.
However, temperatures should remain around the high teens and low 20s across central and western parts of England and Wales.
Wet weather is forecast for Easter Sunday, with the chance of sleet or snow in Scotland and the far north of England.
Tuesday saw Wales record its hottest day of the year so far, with the mercury hitting 21.3C (70F) in Cardiff.
Northern Ireland also experienced its warmest day of the year with temperatures reaching 18C (64.4F) at Giant’s Causeway, while Scotland saw the mercury rise to 18.5C (65.3F) in Lossiemouth, Moray.
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