Parks, markets and seafronts busy as Brits get out on first weekend of lockdown

BRITS have thronged parks and beaches around the UK today – but central London was deserted on the first Saturday of England's second national lockdown.

Bournemouth seafront was packed with visitors, while families enjoyed a walk in the sunshine at Hyde Park in London.

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Markets in Cambridge were also busy – with little room for social distancing between stalls.

All shops selling clothes and electronics, as well as vehicle showrooms and travel agents, have been forced to shut down – just six weeks before Christmas.

The order has turned normally-bustling city centres into ghost towns – as Brits head elsewhere to make the most of the autumn sunshine.

It comes as new directives to stay at home unless exercising or for another essential reason take hold.

In Manchester, runners pounded a path beside the Bridgewater Canal.

Street stalls selling food and Christmas wreaths were busy in Cambridge, while families enjoyed feeding the ducks at parks across London.

Elsewhere in the capital, however, streets were deserted.

Oxford Street, which boasts 200million visitors a year and is Europe's most popular shopping street, was one of the roads to fall eerily silent today.

There was little traffic near the flagship Topshop store – a stretch regularly jammed with buses, taxis and cyclists.

Affluent Regent Street, known for fashion stores and fine dining, was also quiet.

And police confirmed they'd been alerted after photos of people buying goods at street stalls in Hackney, London were shared online.

Shoppers can still visit supermarkets, with no prohibitions on what they can buy.

Banks and post offices will stay open as well.

However, Brits are generally urged to remain at home – and those who do leave will face a £200 fine if they do so without a reason.

The new rules came into force just after midnight on Thursday.

Just hours after the law took hold, roads, Tubes and trains were packed with people heading to the office – despite calls to work from home.

And roads in the capital were gridlocked hours before the country was plunged into the lockdown as many tried to escape London.

Many also flocked to shops to try and do as much Christmas shopping as possible on Wednesday.

Bargain hunters waited in line outside a number of stores from 7.30am to indulge in some retail therapy before closures.

But not finding the perfect gift in time may be the least of Brits' worries this Christmas.

Sage scientists want those who spent time with their families and friends this festive season to self-isolate two weeks afterwards to stop the spread of Covid.

Documents released by the group say the public should be given more advice on how to manage their risk when they're meeting more people than usual.

Officials say that if social gatherings do go ahead, people should be given advice on how to cut the risks of passing on the virus – including by staying at home for weeks afterwards.

And yesterday, it was reported that officials say Brits may have to wait until summer 2021 to enjoy a Christmas get-together.

Scientists suggested that "planning a summer family get together could replace meeting at Christmas".

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