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Photos show huge crowds packed onto Margate beach amid lockdown heatwave

Shocking photos show thousands of people packed onto a Kent beach today.

Alarming images taken at Margate's Main Sands - where hordes of sun-seekers flocked to make the most of the heatwave - give little indication that a global pandemic is raging.

Huge crowds of people on Margate Main Sands today. Picture: Frank Leppard Photography
Huge crowds of people on Margate Main Sands today. Picture: Frank Leppard Photography

In a post on Twitter, local authority Thanet District Council acknowledged the huge crowds, and urged beachgoers to stay safe.

They wrote: "We have seen the pictures of our beaches today - they're heaving!

"Make sure if you have come to Thanet you are able to observe social distancing guidelines, if you can't do this then it isn't a risk you should take!"

But the sheer volume of people made social distancing a challenge on the district's beaches today.

Photos taken by Thanet photographer Frank Leppard show families and groups of friends complete with umbrellas, tents, and chairs, sitting almost on top of one another on the sand.

The shocking scenes in Thanet today. Picture: Frank Leppard Photography (37275931)
The shocking scenes in Thanet today. Picture: Frank Leppard Photography (37275931)

Mr Leppard, who has lived in Thanet his whole life, said: "I've not see the beach this busy for years."

Many residents have been angered by the huge crowds, with one writing: "I truly am speechless at the selfishness of every single person who has travelled to beaches in the UK the last couple of days.

"Unsafe to send your children to school but okay to crowd out beaches like this with your supposed loved ones."

Some suggested all UK beaches should be closed by the government until the autumn.

Another social media user said: "Makes me so angry. At this rate the virus will never leave. Second wave is coming!"

The shocking scenes in Margate. Picture: Frank Leppard Photography
The shocking scenes in Margate. Picture: Frank Leppard Photography

It comes after similar scenes in Bournemouth today.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council declared a major incident, following similar scenes of people packed onto its beaches.

The council and local police force pleaded with people to stay away after services were “stretched to the absolute hilt”.

In Thanet, the district council urged its visitors to take their rubbish home with them upon leaving the shoreline.

Last month, Margate beach was left strewn with smashed bottles, nitrous oxide canisters, discarded sanitary products and even human faeces following a spell of sunny weather that brought revellers to the coast.

Huge crowds of people on Margate Main Sands today. Picture: Frank Leppard Photography
Huge crowds of people on Margate Main Sands today. Picture: Frank Leppard Photography

The council has now increased its street cleaning services and put out extra bins, but today reminded people to take litter home with them if bins are full.

Elsehwere in Kent today, hour-long delays and queues of 18 miles jammed the roads as people made a beeline for the coast.

There were huge queues on Romney Marsh as families lined up to try and get onto the sand, while tailbacks of 18 miles were reported on the coast-bound M2.

In Littlestone, near New Romney, RNLI volunteers were disgusted to find beachgoers had defecated and urinated at their lifeboat station.

Huge crowds of people on Margate Main Sands today. Picture: Frank Leppard Photography
Huge crowds of people on Margate Main Sands today. Picture: Frank Leppard Photography

Iain Bates, a helmsmen at the station, who has lived in Littlestone for 10 years, said it showed how disrespectful beach goers had been today.

He added: "It's not just what has been highlighted at our lifeboat station, but with the irresponsible parking, leaving litter etc etc, the usual stuff - today has been the worst we have ever seen."

Elsewhere, seaside business owners said their takings were level with those of a typical summer weekend - providing welcome relief after months of closure.

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet


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