Thousands of pub drinkers have swarmed streets as lockdown restrictions are eased on ‘Super Saturday’.
England’s first night out after three months has been named ‘absolute madness’, with many drunken punters accused of flouting social distancing guidelines.
Several pubs across the country – including in Lincoln and Nottinghamshire – have closed early, with arrests made for alcohol related anti-social behaviour.
Meanwhile, crowded scenes in Soho have sparked alarm, amid concerns that the R rate in London has risen above 1 again.
Massive queues were seen outside English boozers all day long on Saturday, with some people reportedly waiting up to an hour to get inside.
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Images from cities including Norwich, Newcastle, Bristol and London show people celebrating, with revelry growing wilder as the night wore on in the capital.
While many people kept their distance, others appeared to forget the government’s one-metre rule.
Police in Nottinghamshire said a number of landlords had made the decision to shut after incidents including a smashed window and minor assault.
Inspector Craig Berry from Nottinghamshire Police said: ‘As a result, four arrests were made by officers and we supported licensees who chose to close their own premises. No pubs have been closed by the police.’
Leicestershire Police also announced they issued a dispersal order in Market Harborough town centre after reports of anti-social behaviour and low-level disorder.
Someone named Derek posted a picture of Soho streets in London tonight, writing: ‘Madness. 100 days down the pan’.
Another person on Twitter said: ‘Soho in London is jammers, mask on and home time for me. Absolute madness’.
Fears are rife the hospitality industry reopening could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases, with Boris Johnson urging the public to ‘not let the country down’ on Friday.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the prime minister said people needed to focus on ‘supporting the livelihoods of businesses across country’ – but must do so ‘responsibly’.
He said: ‘Lockdown only succeeded in controlling the virus because everyone worked together, and we will only succeed in reopening if everyone works together again, because we are not out of the woods yet.
‘The virus is still with us and the spike in Leicester has shown that. If it starts running out of control again this government will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and re-imposing restrictions.
‘Anyone who flouts social distancing and COVID-Secure rules is not only putting us all at risk but letting down those businesses and workers who have done so much to prepare for this new normal.
‘So as we take this next step, our biggest step yet, on the road to recovery, I urge the British people to do so safely.’
It comes as a new poll suggests more than half of voters think the hospitality sector has been reopened too soon.
The Opinium survey also claims that 73% of people expect a second outbreak of Covid-19 this year.
It states the Government’s disapproval rating is at 49% – with just 30% approving of its performance.
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