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Drinkers hit bars and pubs across the country for one more weekend of freedom

Drinkers flocked to pubs and bars across Britain tonight for a final weekend of freedom before the Government’s tough new ‘rule of six’ comes into force next week. 

Revellers rushed to busy beer gardens in London, Manchester and Nottingham in their masses ahead of the tightening of lockdown rules in the UK from Monday.

Under Boris Johnson’s strict new measures, groups of more than six can be broken up by police who will be able to hand out £100 fines to those who flout the rules. This will double on each repeat offence up to £3,200.    

Only schools, workplaces and a limited number of other locations will be exempt. 

The latest measure introduced to tackle the spread of coronavirus comes as a Government-led study today suggested the reproduction ‘R’ rate could be as high as 1.7 in the UK.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the spike in infections justifies the Government’s new rule of six, warning people ‘the pandemic is not over’. 

As hundreds of Britons enjoyed a final night of freedom tonight, police bosses urged people to look after each other and avoid a ‘party weekend’ before the restrictions are implemented.        

Revellers rushed to busy beer gardens in London, Manchester and Nottingham in their masses tonight ahead of the tightening of lockdown rules across Britain from Monday. Pictured: Southbank in London tonight

Revellers rushed to busy beer gardens in London, Manchester and Nottingham in their masses tonight ahead of the tightening of lockdown rules across Britain from Monday. Pictured: Southbank in London tonight 

People can be seen in Manchester City centre tonight, enjoying the last weekend before lockdown restrictions are tightened in England

People can be seen in Manchester City centre tonight, enjoying the last weekend before lockdown restrictions are tightened in England

Revellers can be seen heading out for one last night out before new coronavirus rules come into play on Monday. Pictured: Revellers in Nottingham tonight

Revellers can be seen heading out for one last night out before new coronavirus rules come into play on Monday. Pictured: Revellers in Nottingham tonight

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: ‘There is a real risk some members of the public will take advantage of the current situation and treat this weekend as a party weekend ahead of the tighter restrictions being introduced on Monday.

‘Alcohol and warm weather are not a good combination at the best of times. Using the current situation as an opportunity and excuse to party would be incredibly irresponsible and put pressure not only on policing, but potentially on the ambulance service and NHS.

‘We are in the grip of a deadly pandemic and we have seen cases increasing over recent weeks. Policing is under pressure like never before, but my colleagues will give enforcement notices if they feel it’s appropriate, and we make no apology for doing so.’ 

Yesterday, officers told the Telegraph they fear Britain will resemble the ‘last days of Rome’ after this weekend amid a storm of decadent planned pre-lockdown parties.  

One policeman, based in the north east of England, said: ‘We are worried this weekend is going to be like the last days of Rome. 

People gather at More London Place near London Bridge in London for one more weekend of freedom before the government implements its new rule of six from Monday

People gather at More London Place near London Bridge in London for one more weekend of freedom before the government implements its new rule of six from Monday

People gather outside the The Shipwrights Arms near London Bridge in London tonight for a final night out before the rules hit

People gather outside the The Shipwrights Arms near London Bridge in London tonight for a final night out before the rules hit

Under Boris Johnson 's strict new measures, groups of more than six can be broken up by police who will be able to hand out £100 fines to those who flout the rules. This will double on each repeat offence up to £3,200. Pictured: London Bridge tonight

Under Boris Johnson ‘s strict new measures, groups of more than six can be broken up by police who will be able to hand out £100 fines to those who flout the rules. This will double on each repeat offence up to £3,200. Pictured: London Bridge tonight 

Britons have promised to run riot and enjoy one last knees-up with friends before Boris Johnson 's stringent new coronavirus restrictions come into force on Monday

Britons have promised to run riot and enjoy one last knees-up with friends before Boris Johnson ‘s stringent new coronavirus restrictions come into force on Monday 

‘If people think they are not going to be allowed to go out and enjoy themselves for the next few months, they are going to go crazy and we will be left picking up the pieces.’

Britons have promised to run riot and enjoy one last knees-up with friends before Boris Johnson’s stringent new coronavirus restrictions come into force on Monday. 

The new rules mean groups of more than six people can be broken up by police, who will have the power to hand out £100 fines.

Many are having to cancel parties after warnings of a rapid increase in infections among people in their teens, 20s and 30s – but fears are now rising that some young people will take this weekend as an opportunity to run wild and indulge in decadence not seen since the collapse of Europe’s first great empire.   

A senior officer said they were not sure if police had the resources to meet the challenge of thousands of people ignoring restrictions this weekend. 

While Chairman of the Police Federation in West Yorkshire, Brian Booth, said officers were ‘flat out again doing the everyday things such as dealing with stabbings, shootings, drug dealers, missing people etc’. 

As hundreds of Britons enjoyed a final night of freedom tonight, police bosses urged people to look after each other and avoid a 'party weekend' before the restrictions are implemented. Pictured: Nottingham tonight

As hundreds of Britons enjoyed a final night of freedom tonight, police bosses urged people to look after each other and avoid a ‘party weekend’ before the restrictions are implemented. Pictured: Nottingham tonight

Yesterday, officers told the Telegraph they fear Britain will resemble the 'last days of Rome' after this weekend amid a storm of decadent planned pre-lockdown parties

Yesterday, officers told the Telegraph they fear Britain will resemble the ‘last days of Rome’ after this weekend amid a storm of decadent planned pre-lockdown parties 

People gather at the Southbank Skatepark in Waterloo, London ahead of the new rules, which ban groups of more than six

People gather at the Southbank Skatepark in Waterloo, London ahead of the new rules, which ban groups of more than six

The latest measure introduced to tackle the spread of coronavirus comes as a Government-led study today suggested the reproduction 'R' rate could be as high as 1.7 in the UK. Pictured: Southbank tonight

The latest measure introduced to tackle the spread of coronavirus comes as a Government-led study today suggested the reproduction ‘R’ rate could be as high as 1.7 in the UK. Pictured: Southbank tonight

‘If we are going to be asked to focus on enforcement, something else will have to give,’ he added.

Sold-out events across London taking place this weekend include a bottomless brunch in the ballpit bar Ballie Ballerson in Soho.  

Also sold out are the popular ‘Sip n Stroke’ parties in Shoreditch, brunch rooftop parties at Brixton’s Prince of Wales, and ‘London’s original boat party’ cruise along the Thames.  

The Prime Minister effectively put Christmas celebrations on hold on Wednesday as he warned new restrictions on gatherings could be here for months – while Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty pointed the finger at ‘Generation Z’ for sparking a surge in cases.

Addressing the nation at the first No10 press conference since July, the PM said the spike in infections seen over the past week left him no choice but to tighten lockdown across England for the first time since March.  

People in Manchester sit outside ahead of the introduction of new coronavirus rules on Monday

People in Manchester sit outside ahead of the introduction of new coronavirus rules on Monday

Others in the city gathered near to a wine bar as they enjoyed a night out with their friends

Others in the city gathered near to a wine bar as they enjoyed a night out with their friends

A group of women head for a night out in Manchester before the new rules kick in on Monday

A group of women head for a night out in Manchester before the new rules kick in on Monday

Elsewhere in Manchester, groups sat together as they enjoyed a pint outside a bar in the city

Elsewhere in Manchester, groups sat together as they enjoyed a pint outside a bar in the city

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the spike in infections justifies the Government's new rule of six, warning people 'the pandemic is not over'. Pictured: Manchester

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the spike in infections justifies the Government’s new rule of six, warning people ‘the pandemic is not over’. Pictured: Manchester

He suggested the ‘rule of six’ limit on how many people can socialise together will be in place for some time to come, after partying among the younger generation fuelled a sharp rise. 

Apart from a vaccine, he said the only other way out before Christmas was a ‘moonshot’ of introducing mass daily testing for everyone, but admitted that would require ‘everything to come together’.

In a direct plea to young people, Mr Johnson said that they should consider their behaviour ‘for the sake of your parents’ and your grandparents’ health’.

Professor Whitty said the numbers of coronavirus case have been increasing ‘much more rapidly’ over the past few days. 

While the numbers among older people and children remained ‘flat’, in other age groups there were ‘rapid upticks’. 

One last night out before new coronavirus rules come into play on Monday

One last night out before new coronavirus rules come into play on Monday 

From Monday, it will be illegal to assemble in groups of seven or more anywhere in England, whether indoors or out. Pictured: Manchester

From Monday, it will be illegal to assemble in groups of seven or more anywhere in England, whether indoors or out. Pictured: Manchester

He said among 17 to 18 year-olds and 19 to 21 year-olds the numbers had gone up ‘really quite steeply’ since mid August. 

He added data suggested that without action Britain would be on a path ‘extremely similar’ to France where the numbers have continued to rise – cautioning that the situation was likely to be perilous all the way through to Spring. 

From Monday it will be illegal to assemble in groups of seven or more anywhere in England, whether indoors or out.

The limit – sparked by concern that partying young people are fuelling a flare-up – is a dramatic reduction on the maximum of 30 put in place on July 4. It will be enforced by police with £100 fines, doubling on each repeat offence up to £3,200. 

Only schools, workplaces and a limited number of other locations will be exempt. 

Pubs and restaurants will also be legally obliged to collect contact tracing information from customers. 

Before they were only asked to in government guidance. And Mr Johnson said the Government was having to ‘revise and review’ the return of theatres and stadium events, with sports matches facing a 1,000 ceiling on attendance. 

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