Huge crowds of people were seen in bars and beer gardens yesterday evening as they cooled off after a day of scorching temperatures.

Friday saw the hottest August day in the UK since 2003 after the Met Office confirmed temperatures had reached 36.4 degrees Celsius at Heathrow Airport and Kew Gardens in London.

Large numbers of people were spotted flocking to beer gardens – both in the capital and elsewhere – to enjoy a drink in the baking sunshine.

It comes after nearly all beaches in Bournemouth issued ‘red alerts’ as crowds flocked back to the coast yesterday.

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By lunchtime 20 of the 24 beaches in the Dorset city were full, according to an app developed by the council.

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Popular spots including Bournemouth Beach West, Bournemouth Beach East, Sandbanks and Mudeford Sandspit were so overcrowded that they should be avoided because social distancing isn’t possible, according to the app.

Signs telling sunseekers to ‘head home’ were seen next to some of the busiest beaches after people reportedly queued from 3am to get a prime spot. 

And the local lockdowns in the north of England were extended to Preston last night.

The Department of Health extended restrictions around Greater Manchester to the Lancashire city from midnight, meaning different households are now unable to meet indoors or in gardens.

Measures banning mixing between households in the north of England were due for review on Thursday, a week after they were brought in for residents in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire, as well as Leicester, the first area to be hit by a local lockdown.

Those restrictions will remain in place, with another review due next week, ahead of an announcement next Friday.

Government figures published yesterday also indicated the UK’s coronavirus R rate may have crept back up to 1 – and could be even higher in some places.

It is thought to possibly be above one in London, the North West and the South West, meaning the number of new cases is rising.

Across the country it is estimated to be between 0.8 and 1, according to the Government’s latest figures published today.

The R rate – which represents the number of individuals who, on average, will be infected by a single person with the virus – needs to be below 1 for the epidemic to shrink. If it is greater than 1, the epidemic is growing.

But despite the data sounding alarm bells for certain regions, it also suggests the overall number of cases could be falling by as much as 5% nationally.

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