Scores of revellers descended onto the streets of Leeds and Birmingham to enjoy a night out tonight before the Government’s new restrictions to stop the spread of a second wave of coronavirus came into force.
Party-goers, including those who had recently arrived to the UK cities to begin their academic year at university, swapped a night in at home to hit the numerous pubs and bars in the area and celebrate with their friends.
Crowds of alcohol-fuelled revellers appeared in high spirits as they huddled in large groups without face masks and walked onto the streets of Leeds city centre into the small hours amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile others were spotted queuing outside The Bristol Pear pub in Selly Oak, Birmingham, to enjoy a drink and mark the start of the academic year.
The scenes came just hours after the Prime Minister set out a raft of measures designed to clampdown on the disease, including imposing a 10pm curfew on all pubs, bars and restaurants in England from Thursday.
Revellers hit the streets of Leeds and party into the small hours just hours after the Prime Minister set out a raft of measures designed to clampdown on the coronavirus
A group of students hit the streets in Leeds just hours after the Government announced its tougher measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus
Scores of revellers and students break social distancing guidelines as they gather together in the city without face masks into the small hours
Revellers and students arrived to The Bristol Pear pub in Selly Oak, Birmingham, to enjoy a night out before the new 10pm curfew came into force
In September, students arriving to Birmingham were urged to stick to social distancing rules and Covid gathering guidelines to prevent outbreaks of the virus at universities in the city.
It came after the city, which is home to more than 1.5million people, was hit with draconian lockdown rules after the number of coronavirus patients being admitted to hospitals in the city soared.
This month people in Birmingham and neighbouring Solihull and Sandwell were banned from mixing with anyone outside of their own household in private homes, pubs, restaurants or in gardens.
The move followed two days of crunch talks between the Government and local health leaders after Birmingham’s seven-day infection rate rose to 78 cases per 100,000.
Meanwhile Leeds was teetering on the brink of a local lockdown and was placed on Public Health England’s list of areas of concern after the Yorkshire city, which is home to half a million people, saw its infection rate rise to 32.4 new cases per 100,000 people.
Earlier this month thousands ministers discouraged young people preparing for university from attending Freshers’ events, with Health Minister Lord Bethell urging freshers and returning university students to resist going to mass social gatherings ‘in pubs, clubs and bedrooms’.
Meanwhile, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan furiously warned large event organisers that police will take ‘serious action’ against them, following reports that some companies have been advertising mass social Freshers’ events.
And Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, pleaded with students to ‘follow the rules’ for ‘the sake of your education and your parents’ and grandparents’ health’.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said: ‘We are deeply concerned about the spread among students. Some of that spread will take place in universities, and I pay tribute to the efforts of vice-chancellors to put in place social distancing arrangements in universities; we hope that they will have an impact.
‘However, some of the effect is in their social life – in pubs, clubs and bedrooms up and down the country.
‘That is the responsibility of the students themselves, and we are looking at measures to enhance and enforce the social-distancing measures that will stop the spread of this disease.’
Groups of revellers appeared in high spirits as they huddled in large groups without face masks and celebrated into the small hours
Revellers flout social distancing guidelines as they hit the streets of Leeds and enjoy a night out amid the coronavirus pandemic
A group of revellers hit the streets of Leeds without masks and enjoy a night out just days before the 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants comes into place
Crowds of people stand outside a pub in Leeds to enjoy a night out despite the Rule of Six measures now in force
People cross a street in Leeds as scores of revellers hit the streets of the city to enjoy a night out amid the coronavirus pandemic
Party-goers gather on the streets in Leeds to enjoy a night out and party into the small hours just days before the new curfew is kicked into force
People gather on the streets of Leeds to enjoy a night out just days before the new 10pm curfew comes into force
People queue outside The Bristol Pear pub just hours after the Government toughened its coronavirus measures
Crowds of students flout the Rule of Six as they huddle in large groups without face masks in a nearby par
The scenes come as Boris Johnson today announced a new wave of Covid-19 restrictions that could last up to six months- including a 10pm curfew on bars, pubs and restaurants in England.
The 10pm curfew on the hospitality sector has sparked an immediate industry backlash as the UKHospitality group said it was ‘another crushing blow’.
There are also fears the move could have unintended consequences amid warnings of a potential ‘surge of unregulated events and house parties’.
Tory MPs also expressed concerns about the curfew plans, describing them as a ‘terrible blow’ for the hospitality industry and warning there must not be another ‘major lockdown’.
It was claimed overnight that Mr Johnson had initially backed a total shutdown of the hospitality and leisure sectors before Chancellor Rishi Sunak persuaded him to take a less severe course after warning of economic carnage.
Under the new measures, plans for a partial return of sports fans to stadiums from October 1 have been ‘paused’ while the number of people allowed to attend weddings is being reduced to 15.
Mr Johnson also announced the end of the Government’s back to work drive, urging Britons to work from home if they can.
Pub-goers at the Westminster Arms pub in London watch the Prime Minister address the nation regarding new coronavirus restrictions
Customers at the Westminster Arms pub in London watch Boris Johnson issue an emotional plea to the country
Face masks will also have to be worn on public transport and in many indoor spaces, including shops, shopping centres, indoor transport hubs, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.
Those who fail to wear face masks could face a fine of £200.
Just hours after setting out the new measures, the Prime Minister issued an emotional plea to the nation and warned Britons they faced a long hard winter of police-enforced curbs on their freedom to see off coronavirus.
He also hit out at his critics – including Tory MPs and business leaders who warned of the economic impact of the tough measures, adding: ‘To those who say we don’t need this stuff, and we should leave people to take their own risks, I say these risks are not our own.
‘The tragic reality of having Covid is that your mild cough can be someone else’s death knell.
The Prime Minister said it was necessary to reintroduce the measures to avoid a dramatic surge in deaths and a second, economically devastating total lockdown
‘And as for the suggestion that we should simply lock up the elderly and the vulnerable – with all the suffering that would entail – I must tell you that this is just not realistic.
‘Because if you let the virus rip through the rest of the population it would inevitably find its way through to the elderly as well, and in much greater numbers.’
Despite the PM’s new crackdown, some experts have already warned the measures will not be enough after Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said yesterday the UK could hit 50,000 cases a day by mid-October and 200 plus daily deaths by November unless Britain changes course.
DO CURFEWS WORK AT SLOWING THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS?
From Thursday evening, bars, pubs and restaurants across England will be required to close from 10pm every night.
The move is an ‘intermediate’ step in the fight against the virus, and follows in the steps of Thailand.
When Thailand imposed a 10pm to 4am curfew on April 3 it was counting just over 100 cases of coronavirus a day. By the time the curfew was removed on June 15 this number had dropped into the low tens.
Although the country’s success has been attributed to the curfew, some scientists dispute this, saying that the lockdown and other social measures in force at the time had a greater impact.
The UK is hoping that its curfew may help it mirror the success of the South-east Asian nation.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at Edinburgh University, told HuffPost curfews are used because ‘we know that night time economy generally is risky’.
‘There have been outbreaks linked to nightclubs and to bars and restaurants,’ she said. ‘We’ve known this for months.’
‘The longer people are in these venues, the more they probably let their guard down and the mix of social distancing and alcohol is not a good one despite the best efforts of publicans and venue owners.’
Behavioural expert Professor Susan Michie, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said she thought the 10pm time had been chosen to balance the needs of the night-time economy with the need to control the virus.