Police disperse drinkers protesting against tier 2 rules in London | World news
A small protest against new restrictions preventing people from different households meeting indoors took place in Soho, central London, on Friday night, with some revellers led away in handcuffs.
Police dispersed groups of drinkers after they spilled out of bars after the 10pm curfew and many continued gathering on the streets, as the capital moved into tier 2 of the coronavirus lockdown at midnight.
The new measures, aimed at reducing the rate of infection, mean that people from separate households in London will no longer be allowed to meet indoors in pubs, bars or restaurants.
A placard saying: “Shut up you fascist Tories, no one tells me what time to go to bed,” was held aloft as a handful of protesters chanted: “We are united.” People angrily remonstrated with police officers.
Waqas Sadiq, a bouncer at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club on Frith Street, Soho, said the new rules had made many unhappy. “A lot of people are talking about it. There’s going to be a very bad impact from next week on all the businesses, especially in the West End,” he said.
“In our establishment, we’ve had to call all the people who have already booked, people who don’t live at the same address, and tell them, and maybe they’ll cancel their tickets … lots of people are losing their jobs and people have no money right now.”
One reveller told a reporter: “I think that’s why it’s probably so busy tonight, because everyone’s enjoying this last opportunity of freedom.”
A member of a group of female speed-daters said: “I’m not worried about Covid. My mum had it, I didn’t catch it. I got tested yesterday I was negative, so I’m all good. Our university tests us every week.”
Another suggested that the increase in testing was driving the rising positive cases, adding: “Voting for Boris Johnson was the worst decision of my life.”
One person was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, the Metropolitan police said. Another was issued with a dispersal order and directed to leave the area.
Piers Corbyn, who has previously been arrested and fined £10,000 for breaching coronavirus regulations, later arrived to show his support and shake hands with people.
“We’re here to drink against the curfew,” said the brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “To oppose the lockdowns, to oppose job losses caused by lockdowns, to oppose all of it. The whole lot should be lifted now.”
Speaking to reporters, he falsely claimed there was “no such thing” as a coronavirus: “There are other viruses around but there’s not a magic, dangerous Covid virus.”
The Met said they were working alongside London’s local authorities to ensure compliance with the regulations around licensed premises and that more strident action would be taken against those who flout the regulations amid rising cases.
“Communities across London can therefore expect to see an increase in our efforts to deal with the most deliberate, harmful and flagrant breaches of regulations,” said deputy assistant commissioner Matt Twist, the Met’s lead for Covid-19.
There were also bizarre scenes in Soho on the first night of the 10pm curfew last month, with revellers questioning the apparent focus on controlling the spread of coronavirus at the expense of addressing mental health issues and efforts to reduce deaths from other causes.