Thousands of St Patrick’s Day revellers were seen descending on parks across the UK as police dished out dozens of fines for those breaking Covid rules.
Altogether, 43 people were fined and one person was arrested for being drunk and disorderly.
While in Manchester, one neighbour described people with ‘loud speakers’ waving Irish flags and urinating on his garden fence during the gathering at Platt Fields Park – which started on yesterday afternoon.
And another local said the park, in Fallowfield, was ‘the busiest I’ve seen it’.
Greater Manchester Police attended and were said to be ‘engaging’ with those present but didn’t issue any fines.
One neighbour described people with ‘loud speakers’ waving Irish flags and urinating on his garden fence during the gathering at Platt Fields Park – which started on yesterday afternoon
And police in Liverpool also broke up a house party with more than 30 guests and handed out 21 fines.
Today police accused those behind the ‘appalling’ scenes of putting lives at risk at the party in West Derby suburb of Liverpool.
Officers stormed the property in Deysbrook Lane shortly before 6pm.
Police have not disclosed the level of fines but anyone mixing indoors or breaking the rules can be fined £200, which will be reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days.
Police can also hand out fines of £800 for anyone attending a house party of more than 15 people.
Condemning the party guests, Chief Inspector Chris Barnes said: ‘This was another brazen and appalling example of people flouting the rules during the pandemic. Anyone at the party last night could have spread Covid-19 to others and put their community at risk.
‘Coronavirus regulations are still in place – they apply to everyone, and they’re there to protect our health. We are still in a national lockdown and people are only permitted to mix outdoors with one other person outside their household or support bubble.
‘I’d like to thank everyone who continues to abide by the rules – and remind those who don’t that we won’t hesitate to issue a substantial fine when they put us all at risk.’
Under current lockdown rules, outdoor mixing is only permitted with your own household, or with one other person.
One neighbour described seeing around ‘500 people’ congregating on the hill in the Manchester park.
The resident, who asked not to be named, said: ‘I think there must be 500 people there all breaking Covid rules. They’ve got loud speakers, Irish flags and they’ve been urinating up my back fence. Our yard backs onto the park.
‘I think it’s just disgusting. It’s exactly the same as it was a few weeks ago but worse.
While another local said the park, in Fallowfield, is ‘the busiest I’ve seen it’
‘Because it’s St Patrick’s Day this will go on long into the night I’m sure.
‘I just don’t get people. They will probably go back to halls and see people who have been trying to live by the rules. These people are just flouting the rules. It shows a total disregard for other people.’
Another eyewitness described seeing hundreds of people in the park.
‘The park was the busiest I’ve seen it,’ they said.
‘I would say there were at least 200 people on top of the hill. It was mainly young people stood around drinking and listening to music.’
It is understood that several groups of people have gathered rather than one large group.
Police attended and were said to be ‘engaging’ with those present but didn’t issue any fines
A Greater Manchester Police spokesperson said: ‘Police were initially called just after 2pm on Wednesday 17 March to reports of a small group of people gathering on Platt Fields Park.
‘As the afternoon went on, the number of groups gathered at the park increased.
‘Officers attended and engaged with those present. No fixed penalty notices were issued and many of those there later dispersed without issue.’
Supt Mark Wiggins, of Merseyside Police, said: ‘Unfortunately there are some people who believe the rules are not meant for them.’
By the time they were moved on, crowds had left swathes of litter across the park.
Hundreds of students were gathered in Sefton Park, Liverpool, on Wednesday as part of St Patrick’s Day celebrations
Police have condemned the crowd for their ‘blatant disregard of Covid-19’ regulations, after footage was shared online
Rules set out as part of easing lockdown mean one person can meet another from another household, but there should be no more than two people altogether.
Merseyside Police have created a dispersal zone covering four parks in the city, which grants officers additional powers to move people on in the park if they are suspected of anti-social behaviour.
Chief Inspector Karl Baldwin said: ‘Such blatant disregard of the Covid-19 regulations, which are in place to protect our communities, will not be tolerated by Merseyside Police.
‘We are still in a national lockdown and large gatherings, either indoors or outdoors, are currently not permitted under the current rules which state that you can only mix outdoors with one other person outside your household or support bubble.
‘Now, more than ever, people should be taking heed of the regulations, so that infection rates can continue to drop, and we can meet the criteria necessary for easing lockdown in the upcoming weeks and months.
‘We know that adhering to the rules over the past year and not seeing family and friends has been really difficult but we all need to pull together and follow the rules as such reckless behaviour now will put any future easing of the lockdown rules in jeopardy.
Under current Covid-19 regulations, no more than two people are allowed to meet up outside
Merseyside Police has created a dispersal zone covering four parks across Liverpool, to break up any more St Patrick’s Day parties
Ch Insp Karl Baldwin warned: ‘By flouting the rules in this way you not only risk catching and spreading coronavirus but also put yourself at risk receiving a substantial fine’
‘We need to do everything we can to protect the public during this pandemic and, rest assured, police will not hesitate to take action when people show such blatant disregard for the rules as we are seeing in Sefton Park this afternoon.
‘We would urge people who are planning to go the park in large groups of multiple households this afternoon to think again as by flouting the rules in this way you not only risk catching and spreading coronavirus but also put yourself at risk receiving a substantial fine.’
The dispersal zone created by Merseyside Police covers Sefton Park, as well as nearby Princes Park, Greenbank Park and Toxteth Park Cemetery and will run until 6am tomorrow.
It gives officers and PCSOs powers to move people along and order them not to return for up to 24 hours.
Under the legislation, officers have the power to seize any item, including vehicles, used in the commission of anti-social behaviour.
Should a person who has previously been directed to leave the area return, an offence would be committed, which they may ultimately be arrested for.
Swathes of litter was left scattered across the park after hundreds of students gathered in Liverpool for St Patrick’s Day
Footage of the gathering showed people drinking in the sun in large groups. A dispersal zone will cover Sefton Park, Princes Park, Greenbank Park and Toxteth Park Cemetery until 6am tomorrow
Supt Mark Wiggins added: ‘We have already dispersed groups of people who chose irresponsibly to ignore Covid regulations and the dispersal order introduced this evening helps us to prevent similar issues from recurring.
‘This Dispersal Zone is not about bothering people going about their legitimate daily business, but an appropriate response to the gatherings we saw in the park this afternoon which involved a large number of irresponsible individuals gathering in large groups and who took no account of the health implications to others from the current pandemic.
‘This will not be tolerated by Merseyside Police.’
Revellers wore Irish sports kits and Guiness-themed hats as they marked St Patrick’s Day. Liverpool councillor Paul Brant urged people to celebrate the day ‘responsibly by following the rules’
Liverpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Paul Brant, told the Liverpool Echo earlier: ‘The city has worked so hard to get the infection levels back down, and breaking the social distancing guidelines risks throwing away those hard won gains with a flash of recklessness.
‘This period before there is full rollout of the vaccine to all adults is the moment of maximum danger if we drop our guard.
‘This has been a long hard winter for all of us, but we only have to look across to Paris to see how quickly a third wave of the virus can return. If you want to celebrate St Patrick’s day, do it responsibly by following the rules.’