The London mayor has warned the city of nearly nine million people is at a dangerous “tipping point” after videos emerged this week of crowded street parties following a pub curfew of 10pm.
The UK is bracing for a second wave of coronavirus with the government last week offering a grim trajectory of 50,000 new daily cases before introducing more restrictions of varying strictness across Britain.
However the rule to enforce all pubs and bars across Britain to close at 10pm hasn’t quashed the appetite for revelry with videos emerging this week of crowded street parties in London and Liverpool as people spill out onto the road to keep the festivities going.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is among many to question the efficacy of the pub curfew in light of the footage.
“London is at a very serious tipping point in the fight against COVID-19, and we need effective measures to stop the spread,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
“This includes a rapid review of the 10pm curfew, given what we've seen in the streets outside pubs and bars across the UK.”
Speaking to British broadcaster ITV London, Mr Khan said in London at the moment “there was nothing stopping people at 10pm from going to people’s households and carrying on drinking during the course of the night”.
Last week London was placed on the national COVID-19 watch list as an "area of concern", with the mayor suggesting the city could see the return of some tighter lockdown measures in the coming days.
Day three of a 10pm curfew: people in Liverpool have gone to the off license to pick up more drinks and continue to party in the street. pic.twitter.com/GOMhNp5rDl— Charlie Haynes (@charliehtweets) September 26, 2020
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this month introduced a ban on gatherings of more than six people across the country, albeit with certain exemptions, but has warned tighter controls could be needed.
New cases of COVID-19 are rising by more than 7000 per day in the United Kingdom. While that’s higher than during the first wave, that is largely due to the lack of testing back in April and May.
Tougher restrictions have been rolled out in hotspots in the north of the country and earlier this month Mr Khan said he fears the same for London.
“It is increasingly likely that, in London, additional measures will soon be required to slow the spread of the virus. We will be considering some of the measures which have already been imposed in other parts of the UK,” he said in a statement.
Restrictions tightened in Britain’s north
British’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock introduced more coronavirus restrictions on Thursday (local tine) across a wider area of England, including the northern city of Liverpool, extending a tighter regime to try to stem rising COVID-19 cases.
Despite facing growing opposition to lockdown measures, Mr Johnson appealed to people on Wednesday (local time) to adhere to the rules, repeating his desire to not only protect public health, but to also keep the economy going.
“I know that some people will think we should give up and let the virus take its course despite the huge loss of life that would potentially entail,” he said.
“I have to say I profoundly disagree and I don't think it's what the British people want. I don't think they want to throw in the sponge, they want to fight and defeat the virus.”
Britain, which has the worst official COVID-19 death toll in Europe, is facing a rapid acceleration of outbreaks across the country. Earlier this week, the government put much of northeastern England under further restrictions.
“I am today extending these measures that have been in place in the northeast since the start of this week to the Liverpool city region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough,” Mr Hancock told parliament.
He said he understood concerns about the economic hit to pubs and restaurants, many of which have been hurt by the introduction of a 10pm curfew in England, Scotland and Wales.
“Our hospitality industry provides so much colour and life in this country,” he said.
“And we will do whatever we can to support them while acting fast to keep this virus under control. I know that these measures are hard, and that they are yet another sacrifice.”
Britain has reported more than 42,143 deaths from the virus – the world's fifth-highest total.
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