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Pubs and beer gardens heaving despite delays to easing of lockdown measures

Pubs and restaurants not social distancing at all in Soho
Large crowds of people flocked to pubs as the Government warned lockdown rules could be tightened again (Picture: W8media)

Punters flocked to pubs and beer gardens yesterday as the UK experienced its third hottest day on record, making it difficult for many to stick to social distancing guidelines.

Large groups of drinkers were pictured stood chatting outside without maintaining a distance of at least one metre.

Sunseekers also filled beaches in Brighton and Bournemouth to the point where authorities told told people to ‘head home’ and tried to stop more visitors from pouring in.

It comes after the Government delayed plans to reopen bowling alleys, ice skating rinks and casinos this weekend for at least another two weeks. As fears of a second wave mount, Downing Street also said wedding receptions of up to 30 people would no longer be allowed.

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The contagion of coronavirus is rising, with one in 1,500 people having the disease, compared to one in 1,800 on July 15 and one in 2,000 on July 2. The Office for National Statistics estimate there are now 4,900 new infections every day compared to 3,000 on July 14 and 2,000 at the end of June.

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In a bid to tackle soaring cases in certain hotspots, the Government has imposed new lockdown measures in large parts of the North West. The rules affecting an estimated 4.5 million people mean people from separate households will no longer be able to meet indoors.

Individual households will still be able to go to pubs and restaurants but they should not socialise with others, the Department of Health said. However Boris Johnson has warned that if cases worsen boozers could be forced to close again in the autumn.

w8media Pubs and restaurants in soho where people aren't social distancing
Punters flock to a pub in Soho in London’s West End (Picture: w8media)
w8media Pubs and restaurants in soho where people aren't social distancing
Boris Johnson has warned pubs could be shut again in the autumn if the UK’s outbreak worsens (Picture: w8media)

At yesterday’s Downing Street press conference the Prime Minister was asked if there would be any ‘trade-offs’ to achieve his goal of getting all schoolchildren in England back into classrooms for the next term.

He said: ‘Your basic point is a very good one about the trade-offs that we’re looking at here. I do believe getting our children back to school on September 1… that should be a national priority.’

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said: ‘The idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control is clearly wrong.

‘I think what we’re seeing from the data from ONS (Office for National Statistics) and other data is that we have probably reached near the limit or the limits of what we can do in terms of opening up society.

w8media Pubs and restaurants in soho where people aren't social distancing
Pubs, restaurants, cinemas and other businesses opened on July 4 on what was dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ (Picture: w8media)
Beachgoers enjoy the sunshine and sea on what is now Britain's hottest day of the year so far, in Brighton, England, Friday, July 31, 2020. Temperatures have reached 35C (95F) at London's Heathrow Airport. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Sunseekers packed Brighton beach yesterday as the UK experienced its third hottest day on record (Picture: AP)

‘So what that means potentially is that if we wish to do more things in the future, we may have to do less of some other things.

‘And these will be difficult trade-offs, some of which will be decisions for government and some of which are for all of us as citizens to do.

‘But we have to be realistic about this. The idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control is clearly wrong.

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‘And what we’re seeing is that that we are at the outer edge of what we can do – and therefore, choices will need to be made.

As well as separate households being banned from meeting up, Brits could once again be told not to use public transport if the national health crisis worsens.

Johnson added: ‘With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should squeeze that brake pedal… in order to keep the virus under control.

‘At this stage, we are not changing the rules on social contact nationally.

‘I don’t want to tell people to spend less time with their friends. But unless people follow the rules and behave safely, we may need to go further.’

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