British Officials Threaten to Close Beaches After Thousands of People Flood the Sands During Heatwave

British officials declared the event a "major incident."

A heatwave, combined with the lifting of a months-long lockdown, saw tens of thousands of Europeans flood beaches this week.

In Bournemouth, on England’s southern coast, officials declared a “major incident” after the sands were crowded with people trying to escape the heat. On Thursday, local authority Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole (BCP) Council responded to photographs of the beaches crowded with people, clearly unable to practice social distancing.

“We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 hours,” Council Leader Vikki Slade said in a statement. “The irresponsible behaviour and actions of so many people is just shocking and our services are stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe. We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response.”

Bournemouth beach crowded during heatwave
GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

Ministers in the UK could close down beaches over the coming weeks if the crowding situation does not improve, according to the BBC. The UK still remains under partial lockdown due to COVID-19 and outdoor gatherings of more than six people are still banned.

Temperatures soared well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in many parts of Europe this week. In Andujar in southern Spain, a temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded Thursday afternoon. Nine Spanish regions have been on high alert due to temperature concerns since Monday, Spain's State Meteorological Agency said.

France reported its first heatwave, with temperatures in the high 90s this week. Those temperature are typical of August but unusual to be reported in June. "Over the past few years, we have noticed heatwaves arriving ever earlier, everywhere in the world," the climate NGO CARE said in a statement, Al Jazeera reported.

The hot weather in Europe is expected to continue into the weekend.

Earlier this week, a town in Siberia reported a record-breaking temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. It is believed to have been the hottest temperature ever reported in the Arctic Circle.

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