THE public has reacted with concern after the British media broadcast scenes of people gathered in the streets to celebrate VE Day yesterday despite the current coronavirus lockdown.

Some outlets – like the BBC – informed viewers watching that the street party participants were socially distanced, but audiences still felt uncomfortable when viewing the images.

Current lockdown restrictions state that only essential travel is allowed – but people doubted how essential VE Day celebrations with neighbours were amid a deadly pandemic.

Officially, more than 30,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the UK but the true number is thought to be higher than that.

One clip from Sky News showed families in Wimbledon gathered to sing Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, while footage posted on Twitter from a BBC reporter showed people taking part in a “socially distanced conga” line near Warrington.

BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker posted the Sky News footage, adding: “Great song, beautifully sung but I am struggling to get my head around this.

“31,241 people have died in the UK from a virus that thrives when we get too close to each other!”

Meanwhile the BBC broadcast shots of street parties on its 6pm news, stating those close together were from the same households and that people were socially distanced. But the images still prompted questions from many, including Channel 4 correspondent Ciaran Jenkins.

He wrote: “People seem to have flicked a switch today and normalised street parties. Has the guidance changed?”

Citing guidance informing the public only to go outside for food, health reasons or work if you cannot work from home, Jenkins added the guidance had in fact not changed.

The scenes come days after Boris Johnson told the public lockdown would begin to ease on Monday, prompting British newspapers to publish gleeful front pages suggesting the pandemic is coming to an end.

The media faced criticism for its front pages which are thought to have caused confusion around the stay-at-home messaging.

Dr Lauren Gavaghan pointed to both the Daily Mail’s Thursday front page and shots from last night’s street party broadcasts.

She tweeted: “The special relationship between the gutter press & Govt not uncommonly plays dangerously. This time, confusing messages re lockdown, govt encouraging war-time spirit & VE Day.

"Result? Street parties in midst of a global pandemic whilst another 626 are dead. Leadership needed.”

There was anger on social media from those who could not understand why the parties were allowed to go ahead.

Rebellious Scot posted: "Hey @BBCNews I’m wondering why I’ve been following the lockdown rules for the last 7 weeks when you’re promoting this as a good news story. Which of the 4 reasons for leaving your house is this? #streetparty"

Others complained that they had seen street parties going ahead themselves in their own area and felt there was little compliance to social distancing going on.

The parties came days after the UK's death toll grew to become the worst in Europe.