Stern banners on Bournemouth Pier urge beachgoers to respect social distancing

THERE’S a large banner on Bournemouth Pier thanking NHS staff for their hard work, while signs outside the kiosks bear stern instructions about two-metre social distancing.

But today, they were like relics from a forgotten age.

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As I stood on the sand, the hot air was thick with marijuana smoke and music blasted from hundreds of Bluetooth speakers as thousands of revellers turned a midweek afternoon into a chaotic party.

Delighted children ran into a sea already heaving with gangs of laughing lads. Girls took selfies and popped prosecco corks as they lay cheek by jowl with grannies on the hottest day of the year so far.

There were West Country accents, Londoners, even the odd Northerner.

Some were making six-hour round trips after seeing images of the beachand realising that “staying alert” seems to have a different meaning here.

Approach roads were gridlocked from 9am and, once there, people left cars ­wherever they would fit.

By 1pm, crowds were swarming from the high street as teens flirted on the sand, zipliners launched off the pier and distant jetskis roared.


Long queues formed at ice cream kiosks as sweat-soaked staff tried to keep up in scenes unimaginable a few weeks ago.

Self-employed brickie Richard James, 34, was among the many taking a day off to hit the beach.

The dad of three, from Southampton, who was with six pals, said: “We’ve got loads of beers and a bottle of vodka and we’re going to have a few drinks in the sun then head back and watch the football.

“It feels great to be out having a good time finally and I’m not too worried about the coronavirus.”



Fish and chip chef Tom Gallagher, 26, from Bournemouth, said: “I’ve worked the last ten days straight and told my boss I needed to take today off so I could have a break.”

Tom, carrying three £5 pints of lager from a beer truck, added: “It’s nice to see things back to normal and people out enjoying themselves.”

Furloughed Jennifer Patrick, 58, who had travelled 100-plus miles from Ealing, West London, to soak up the sun with her 20-year-old daughter, said: “I was ­worried about the coronavirus to start with but I’m not too fussed now.”


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