Arrests as revelers defy the rules of the distance after reopening pubs in England

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LONDON – Lockdown restrictions have been relaxed, pubs have opened and crowds have gathered on the streets of English cities on Saturday, many ignoring the rules of social distancing and prompting complaints from the police. A number of arrests have been made.

John Apter, president of the Police Federation of England and Wales, warned that it was “crystal clear” that drunkards could not distance themselves socially.

Apter, who was on patrol in Southampton, a city on the south coast of England, wrote on Twitter that the officers were dealing with “anti-social behavior, naked men, possession of Class A drugs, happy drunkards, angry drunkards, fighting, more angry drunkards. ”

Elsewhere in Brentwood, a small town east of London, moments after urging people to “have fun” but “behave”, Special Inspector Steve Weaver tweeted that four people had been arrested.

“It didn’t last long,” he writes.

Dubbed “British Super Saturday” and “Independence Day” by part of the UK tabloids, some bars were forced to close soon after they opened for the first time in three months after the coronavirus closed.

The London Metropolitan Police said that the majority of the public followed the guidelines on social distancing, but that certain areas of the English capital were “particularly busy”.

Images and videos taken in the nightlife district of Soho in central London showed crowded streets with very few people wearing masks.

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Mark Welford, 61, who runs Bloomsbury Flowers at nearby Covent Garden, traveled to Soho earlier in the afternoon on Saturday to see what had gone “from zero to essentially normal activity” overnight.

Welford was initially happy to see the ads come back into action, he told NBC News in a telephone interview. “But there was clearly no social distancing. “

After seeing videos from later that evening, he was surprised to see people behaving like “it was a normal Saturday night before COVID”.

Some did not feel comfortable with the scene and decided to leave.

“I had my mask and I went home, I did not feel comfortable being there. It was as if all the hard work at locking had been thrown in the trash, “said Stephen Brian Lowe in a private message on Twitter.

Low, a 20-year-old real estate agent from Kingston-upon-Thames, filmed the scene of “utter madness” in London late Saturday night before returning home.

Large crowds have raised fears that Europe’s deadliest epidemic will start again.

In southern Devon and Cornwall counties, police said they received more than 1,000 calls on Saturday night, mostly related to alcohol-related disorders.

In the eastern county of Nottinghamshire, four people were arrested and several pubs decided to close after alcohol-related antisocial behavior.

Pubs and restaurants have worked hard to prepare for the moment, spacing out the tables, putting staff behind plastic counters and registering customers when they arrive.

Despite this, some pubs have decided not to reopen at all on Saturday night due to lingering fears of a coronavirus outbreak. Leicester, a city in the middle of England, even saw its lock restrictions re-imposed after a local push earlier this week.

Owner Kjetil Kolltveit places social distancing markers on the front of the bar at Chandos Arms pub in London last week.Frank Augstein / AP

While England has embarked on its greatest easing to date – hair salons, restaurants and museums have also reopened – many believe this happened too soon given the still high levels of coronavirus infection.

On Friday, British chief medical officer Chris Whitty said the pandemic “is far from over” in the UK, which has one of the highest pandemic death rates in the world.

More than 44,000 people died of the virus on Sunday, British health officials said.

Elsewhere in Europe, South Korea and the United States, the reopening of bars and restaurants is accused of a peak of infections on the part of customers losing their inhibitions and abandoning the social distance between foreigners.

Cases continue to grow worldwide, as more than 11.2 million people worldwide were infected on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Due to lack of testing equipment, the actual number of cases is unknown.

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