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Londoners descended on Oxford Circus for an “impromptu party” on Friday night as the second 10pm curfew turfed crowds onto streets.
Shocking footage posted on social media showed huge crowds dancing and bumping into each other as loud music blared, with seemingly no social distancing in sight.
Chattering crowds filled thoroughfares and overspilled onto roads in the West End as the sweeping curfew, introduced in a bid to tackle the surging rates of coronavirus, was implemented for the second night running.
Journalist Charlie Haynes tweeted: “Oxford Circus has turned into an impromptu party,” adding: “It really is packed here”.
Others posted footage of heaving Tube stations on the Piccadilly Line as drinkers headed home at the same time.
It came as London was made an “area of concern”, with all 33 borought put on the national Covid-19 watchlist.
Under the new regulations certain businesses like restaurants and pubs must close between 10pm and 5am and must operate table service only.
This also applies to places like social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, bingo halls, amusement arcades and other indoor leisure facilities.
Some had warned of the 10pm cut-off becoming a pinch point for crowds to assemble, with similarly busy scenes pictured in Soho on Thursday night. Wales has allowed drinkers a 20 minute window to finish up after 10pm to stagger leaving times.
The packed scenes sparked fury online. “We’ll be in full lockdown next week,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another agreed, raging: “That’s exactly why we (London) will be in full lockdown by next Friday with bars completely shut. All because people cant take some personal responsibility!”
Professor Graham Medley, an expert on the Government’s scientific advisory committee (Sage), claimed he had “never heard” of the curfew being discussed during the panel’s meetings.
His comments come after another Sage member, Professor John Edmunds, said the 10pm curfew was “fairly trivial” and said that “it will have a very small impact on the epidemic.”
The measures in England are less draconian than Scotland, where households are banned from mixing indoors.
But the latest local lockdown curbs in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool, Leeds, Cardiff and Swansea mean a quarter of the UK population – 17 million people – are now under tighter restrictions.
Boris Johnson’s latest coronavirus crackdown, announced earlier this week, have seen the number of shoppers and diners slump by around a fifth in a hammer blow for central London’s painful recovery from lockdown.
Figures seen by the Standard show that the 10pm curfew for restaurants and pubs, combined with the advice to work from home had an immediate impact that will heighten the threat to West End and City businesses.
On Wednesday, the day after the Prime Minister announced the measures in a sombre televised address, the number of people in the West End was down 18 per cent on the same day last week, in one of the biggest falls ever recorded.
In Piccadilly Circus, a global emblem for the vitality of London, footfall was down 26 per cent according to figures from the Heart of London business group.
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News – Moment ‘impromptu party’ kicks off at Oxford Circus after 10pm curfew