There is increasing concern that the early curfew is fuelling late night gatherings on the streets of major British cities, after the pubs close down.
With all venues shutting at the same time, crowds were seen spilling out onto the streets yesterday evening – the first Saturday night that the whole country was subject to the new restrictions.
In a repeat of the scenes seen across England on Thursday and Friday nights, a huge group of revellers were filmed on the streets of Liverpool, singing and dancing together.
Sharing a clip of the party on Twitter, the Liverpool Nightlife account said: ‘Shut everywhere at 10pm then off to the supermarket buy a load of ale and let’s have a party.’
On Thursday – the first night of the curfew – a video showed Oxford Circus looking rammed as everyone ‘rolled onto the streets’ at the same time, with a witness describing tubes as ‘the busiest I’ve seen in central London for months’.
This was repeated on Friday, as crowds gathered in nightlife spots in London to continue socialising once the pubs had closed.
‘Lockdown inspectors’ have been pictured out on the streets of London, checking in letterboxes and peering through windows to ensure the new rules were being strictly followed.
Last night, large numbers of people didn’t let the cold conditions and early curfew put them off enjoying their Saturday night out.
Some appeared to have managed to get very worse for wear, despite drinking hours being curtailed.
Queues were also seen building up at off licences and the police were seen intervening as tensions threatened to boil over in some places.
Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy said he is concerned about how the curfew policy is working in practice.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr show he said: ‘People are bubbling out of pubs, they are hanging around towns and they are potentially spreading the virus.’
Mr Lammy said he wants a review of how the curfew is working as parliament debates the new measures this week and, although Labour backs the policy, he agreed that ‘it could be making things worse.’
It comes as scientific advisors to the Government said they had never heard the policy being discussed by the Sage committee before it was introduced.
Sage member Professor Graham Medley told Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday that, as far as he was aware, the measure wasn’t based on recommendations from the committee.
Justifying the policy to Andrew Marr this morning, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: ‘The risk here is as people have more to drink, later on in the evening, the amount of social distancing reduces. People get friendlier with each other and there is a greater risk of spread.’
Questioned by Marr whether it would make things worse because people will drink ‘harder and faster and all pour out together’, Mr Dowden said: ‘There is definitely a science behind it. That’s why we are requiring people to be seated in pubs and restaurants – that stops them going to and from the bar.
‘We are reducing the closing times to stop people staying later and drinking. The point about all of this is everyone has their part to play.’
Drinkers were also photographed on the streets of Soho in London, Bristol and Newcastle.
For those in the north east, it was the second weekend under curfew after the measure was brought in early, because of rising levels of infections.
It comes as new lockdowns were introduced, taking the total number of people living under stricter restrictions to around a quarter of the UK’s population.
Politicians continue to debate whether London should be the next city to follow others like Leeds and Cardiff into lockdown.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said the capital was at a ‘very worrying topping point’ with rising Covid-19 cases, NHS 111 calls, hospital admissions and patients in intensive care units.
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