Bob Earll     The combination of the Government’s messaging on coming out of lockdown and the exceptionally warm weather lead to vast numbers of people congregating on the many beaches, especially on the south coast and in particular Dorset. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that so many other facilities in these towns are still closed leaving the beach as the only visitor attraction. Police and authorities in Bournemouth declared a major incident, to enable them to work more closely together. Matt Hancock suggested that he might close beaches if this is likely happen again. A psychologist I heard interviewed suggested that these mass gatherings took place because of lots of individual decisions often with the best intentions of remaining socially distanced but having travelled a long way they were reluctant to return home. As with beach gatherings earlier in the month it illustrates how important it is to get messaging on the virus right – many people seem to think the virus has gone away or won’t affect them.

Litter pollution at large scale events

Another dispiriting element to the same story was the vast amounts of rubbish that the crowds left on the beaches. Between 30-40 tonnes of litter was one estimate at Bournemouth alone. This is nothing new on beaches or at music festival sites after the events. There is clearly an aspect to this of it being acceptable – the social norm at these large scale events. Litter at this scale is pollution and it is caused by the visitors – not producers. So what does social science say about the solutions at this scale of event? Blogs or insights very welcome.

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