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The UK has enjoyed its hottest August day in 17 years, with Britons told to avoid some beaches along the southern coast that were packed with sunseekers.

The Coastguard said 70 callouts had been made across the UK by midday and urged the public to stay safe as crowds gathered on beaches in the likes of Bournemouth, Margate and Brighton despite coronavirus concerns.

The Met Office issued a heat-health warning as temperatures reached 36.4C (97.52F) at Heathrow and Kew Gardens – making it the hottest August day since 2003.

Anticipating the hot weather, hundreds of people descended to the coast across Britain as early as 9am on Friday morning.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council's beach check app showed 19 of its 24 beaches under red alert by the afternoon.

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The red alert warned people to avoid the areas because safe social distancing was not possible.

The remaining beaches were under amber, meaning they were crowded and the public should "stay alert".

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Extra patrols were placed at beaches, town centres and train stations, as well as first aid stations in key locations and marshals to help with parking, the council said.

A BCP Council spokesman said: "It's not unusual for our area to get lots of visitors during the summer period and we are very experienced in handling it.

Image: Brighton beach was packed on Friday
Bournemouth beach was packed with beachgoers
Image: People flocked to Bournemouth beach in the soaring temperatures

"We are working with our partners and will be carefully monitoring the situation throughout the weekend."

Big crowds are expected on Britain's beaches and parks over the weekend as the UK enjoys a three-day hot spell that could reach the threshold for an official heatwave.

This requires three days of temperatures over 25C (77F) across most of the nation and 28C (82.4F) in London.

Beach-goers divided over social distancing

The weekend's soaring temperatures are expected to being travel chaos, with The AA earlier anticipating up to 10% more journeys from Friday afternoon.

Long queues are expected to form on roads near coastal locations, particularly in popular seaside destinations in South West England, Blackpool, the Welsh coast and Norfolk.

A police van on the promenade as Barry Island gets congested with beachgoers
Image: A police van on the promenade as Barry Island becomes congested Read More – Source