Shocked Christmas shoppers have described scenes of ‘chaos’ as hundreds of suspected teenage ‘travellers’ tried to force their way into Harrods in west London last night.
The department store in Knightsbridge was ‘overrun’ by a group of young people thought to be members of the travelling community on Saturday, many not wearing face masks or following Covid social distancing guidelines.
Police were called to disperse the crowd and four people were arrested after the mob clashed with Harrods security guards. Saturday marked the beginning of the first weekend since lockdown rules were relaxed on December 2.
Witnesses described how fights broke out with bottles being thrown and one guard being ‘punched’ amid the carnage.
Kamran Hussain, 20, who works for Harrods as a Sales Associate said: ‘I was going out for my lunch and I saw a big crowd of people who were all dressed up.
‘I went back in and was like Covid-19 is still going on, right? I looked outside and it looked like there was a rave. ‘They looked like they were dressed up to go to a club or something.
‘I think they knew each other because they were speaking to each other. I was a bit worried because I needed to get lunch and couldn’t get through.’
Sam Tressle, 26, from Havering in east London, was manning a coffee stand nearby and said: ‘I was just about to hitch up my Piaggio and then suddenly people started running. There were about 200 to 300 people.
‘They just crowded the area and no one was wearing masks in there. ‘When I was at the door there was a girl saying ‘you’re racist towards us because we’re travellers’. They all looked very similar, all the boys had the same hair cuts and were wearing the same sort of clothes. They were probably as young as 12 all the way up to early 20s.’
Fellow barista Liam Maddin, 27, added: ‘I probably noticed them around 11.30am and they were still here when we were leaving around 5.30pm. The sheer number of them in such a confined space, you just never know. I had a negative coronavirus test for uni yesterday and you just think all those people and, the younger you are, the more likely you are to be asymptomatic.’
A Met Police spokeswoman said: ‘Police were called at 1.09pm on Saturday to reports of a large group of people attempting to enter a shop in Brompton Road.
‘Four males were arrested in total – two for affray, one for breach of Covid regulations, and another for a public order offence and breach of Covid regulations. The crowd have since dispersed.’
Hundreds of young people attempted to enter luxury department store Harrods in Knightsbridge, London yesterday and crowded together in the streets outside
Pictures taken around 5.30pm on Saturday show chaotic scenes in the streets outside Harrods and Harvey Nichols as police were called and made four arrests for affray and Covid rule breaches
The group was made up of hundreds of young people who were not wearing masks and were not paying attention to social distancing
There were long queues outside Harrods on Sunday also, though the line appeared calmer and more distanced than last night’s one
There was no sign of the chaos of last night as families and other shoppers milled around outside the department store this afternoon
Police were initially called to the store just after 1pm and the crowd was dispersed. However, photographs taken around 5.30pm showed people still standing packed closely together, chatting and laughing with each other as they far outnumbered the police presence.
Many of those in the group appeared to be heavily made up, looking as though they were heading for a night out on the town.
Piers Morgan led the outrage against the scenes, tweeting on Sunday morning: ‘Harrods yesterday afternoon. What a sick joke. Imagine how NHS workers feel seeing such selfish reckless behaviour?’
A witness who wished to remain anonymous told MailOnline: ‘There was a lot of beer bottles being thrown around, a lot of violence. I work in Knightsbridge and I really feared to get robbed and attacked when I went out for my break, they were like hooligans they broke displays for a cafe.’
Another said: ‘I was outside and in Harrods last night. This was not just a random crowd of young people, they were travellers.
‘They crowded every entrance and exit, some of them tried getting into the store and punched a security guard. ‘They were threatening members of the public and there were a few fights in-store and outside.
‘Obviously no attention to any COVID laws, they even spat at some members of security and the public. No masks, no social distancing – nothing. Harrods really tried their best to enforce, but there were thousands.’
A spokeswoman for Harrods told MailOnline: ‘We can confirm that a crowd gathered outside Harrods yesterday and were dispersed by police.
‘As this is a police matter and took place outside the store we are unable to comment on details, however at Harrods we have significant measures in place to ensure the absolute health and safety of our colleagues and customers inside the store.
‘This includes the mandatory wearing of face covering at all times, strict capacity limits and restrictions on groups of more than six entering, with under-18’s always accompanied by an adult.
‘Our security and retail teams implement these policies at entrances throughout the store and we will continue to deny entry to anyone who does not adhere to these guidelines.
Metropolitan Police confirmed that officers were called to reports of a large group attempting to enter a store in south west London just after 1pm today and four males were arrested
Chaotic scenes ensued as the large group attempted to enter the Harrods store and crowded together in the streets around Harrods and Harvey Nichols
Metropolitan Police were called to the scene and the crowd has since dispersed. Of the four arrests made, two were for affray, one for breach of Covid regulations, and another for a public order offence and breach of Covid regulations
The shocking scenes at Harrods come as revellers also gathered in Covent Garden in London’s West End on Saturday night as crowds formed to listen to a busker.
Drinkers braved the wintry weather last night as they socialised in a crowd holding drinks and dancing.
London remains in Tier 2 in the new tier system during the coronavirus pandemic. Those living in Tier 2 can socialise outdoors with people outside their household, as long as they observe the rule of six.
Pubs have had their curfew extended to 11pm but can can only serve alcohol with a ‘substantial meal’ and in Tier 3 they are limited to just takeaways.
Covent Garden was also packed with revellers on Saturday night in the first weekend following the lifting of the second nationwide lockdown restrictions
Crowds of people listen to a busker in Covent Garden in London on Saturday night. People living in Tier 2 can socialise outdoors with people outside their household, as long as they observe the rule of six
A man holding a pint dances in front of a man wearing a mask in Covent Garden in London’s West End on December 5
On Saturday, shoppers also made up for lost time during lockdown as they hit the high streets in their droves to do Christmas shopping after outlets re-opened following the lifting of the nationwide restrictions.
London’s Regent Street in Central London, which had been pedestrianised to woo back shoppers, was rammed with people at the start of what was expected to be a £1.5billion spending spree yesterday.
People were out in force on the first non-working day since lockdown ended on December 2, in the hope of snapping up Christmas deals with prices slashed by up to 80 per cent.
They were pictured carrying bags of goods and waiting in queues outside stores, including Primark and the soon-to-be-closing Debenhams.
Last year, the average Briton spent £1,116 each on Christmas, but that is expected to rise after this difficult year.
Retailers hope pre-Christmas purchases will breathe life back into a sector which has been hammered by the shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The boost for struggling stores comes after a week of high street woes as 26,500 jobs were put at risk at retailers including Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group and Debenhams – which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
London’s Regent Street, which had been pedestrianised, was rammed with shoppers at the start of what was expected to be a £1.5billion spending spree on Saturday
In the first non-working day since lockdown ended on December 2, shoppers were pictured carrying bags of goods and waiting in queues outside stores, including Primark and the soon-to-be-closing Debenhams
London remains in Tier 2 which means pubs have had their curfew extended to 11pm but can can only serve alcohol with a ‘substantial meal’. Pictured: Drinkers and diners gather in Soho
Police break up huge party at Christmas market in Nottingham as crowds dance to music with very little social distancing
- Swathes of rule-breaking revellers gathered together in Nottingham city centre
- City’s legally-permitted festive street market descended into chaos on Saturday
- Crowd of partygoers seen outside Nottingham’s city hall while music blared
- Man wheeling a bike with two speakers can be seen speaking to officers in clip
By Jemma Carr for Mailonline
Police were forced to intervene after a huge party erupted at a Nottingham Christmas market on Saturday night.
Vast swathes of rule-breaking revellers gathered as the city’s legally-permitted festive street market descended into chaos.
Partygoers were seen outside Nottingham’s city hall, jumping up and down and raising their arms in the air as music blared.
A man wheeling a bike with two massive speakers mounted to the sides can be seen speaking to officers in the clip.
Footage also shows a van and several uniformed police dotted about in the heart of city – which fell into Tier Three after the nation-wide lockdown was lifted this week.
Under the new rules, outdoor market stalls are permitted to keep trading but they must comply with national guidance.
Police were forced to intervene after a huge party (pictured) erupted at a Nottingham Christmas market on Saturday night
Outdoor market stalls (pictured) are permitted to keep trading in Tier Three but they must comply with national guidance
Vast swathes of rule-breaking revellers gathered together after the city’s legally-permitted festive street market descended into chaos
The guidance states that all traders must wear face coverings and hand sanitiser should be provided at every stall.
Nottingham’s Christmas market – being run by Event firm Mellors Group – operates a one-way system for shoppers and alcohol will not be sold to prevent any potential any merry shoppers breaking the rules.
The number of people in the market can be capped if necessary and a staggered entry system is in operation.
A man wheeling a bike with two massive speakers mounted to the sides (pictured) can be seen speaking to officers in the clip
Footage also shows a van and several uniformed police dotted about (two pictured) in the heart of city – which fell into Tier Three after the nation-wide lockdown was lifted this week
Nottingham’s Christmas market (police at the market, pictured) – being run by Event firm Mellors Group – operates a one-way system for shoppers and alcohol will not be sold to prevent any potential any merry shoppers breaking the rules
It is not known if anyone was arrested at the Christmas market today. Pictured: Footage shows a party at the market
A man with a bike was seen leaving the impromptu party on Saturday. Two large speakers were strapped to his bike
Huge crowds of mask-free revellers were seen gathered in Nottingham city centre on Saturday
The 10am to 9pm market opened its doors on December 5 and will remain open until Christmas eve.
But locals had mixed views on whether the market should go ahead this year – especially as the city has been put into the harshest lockdown tier in the Government’s new system.
One local took to Twitter to share a picture of the huge crowds attracted by the market with the caption: ‘Clumber Street, Nottingham today and we are in tier 3.
‘It will be a miracle if we don’t have another huge increase in Covid cases.’
Locals had mixed views on whether the market (pictured) should go ahead this year – especially as the city has been put into the harshest lockdown tier in the Government’s new system
It was yesterday revealed that Nottingham’s Christmas market-goers will see armed police around the city centre as the force steps up patrols for the festive season. Pictured: Police at the market on Saturday
The UK today reported a further 15,539 Covid-19 cases. Of those, 252 were recorded in the county Nottinghamshire with 96 in Nottingham itself. Pictured: Police at the Nottingham Christmas market on Saturday
Three women pose for pictures at the Nottingham Christmas market on Saturday night
Melissa Chloe also shared pictures of the crowds and wrote: ‘How on earth is Nottingham Christmas Market allowed to go ahead like this, but hospitality venues still not allowed to open with sensible protocols in place?’
Ruth Raven added: ‘Nottingham is in Tier 3. Just a short drive from where I live. These are the official rules.
‘How on earth can the Christmas market be within these rules. It is an absolute farce.’
The UK today reported a further 15,539 Covid-19 cases. Of those, 252 were recorded in the county Nottinghamshire with 96 in Nottingham itself.
Locals had mixed views on whether the market should go ahead this year – especially as the city has been put into the harshest lockdown tier in the Government’s new system
It was yesterday revealed that Nottingham’s Christmas market-goers will see armed police around the city centre as the force steps up patrols for the festive season.
Officers – both uniformed and plain-clothed – will be out and about to tackle crime.
The force said this spike in policing is normal around Christmas time.
It is not known if anyone was arrested at the Christmas market today.
Nottinghamshire police and Mellors Group have been approached for comment.
A Nottingham City Council spokesman told Nottinghamshire Live: ‘Nottingham’s Covid rates have fallen dramatically in recent weeks precisely because of the ongoing efforts of those who live and work in our fantastic city.
‘This year has been so hard for everyone, and we know Christmas – usually such a social and family-orientated period – unfortunately, isn’t going to be the same in 2020.’