Scores of revellers descended onto the streets of Leeds to enjoy a night of heavy partying despite the city being added to a ‘Covid watch list’ amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
Swapping a night in at home to brave chilling temperatures of 11C, party-goers flouted social distancing rules last night as they huddled in large groups without face masks and hit the bars and pubs in the city.
Crowds of alcohol-fuelled revellers appeared in high spirits as they walked onto the cobbled streets into the small hours to celebrate with their friends amid the pandemic.
The scenes come as Leeds teeters on the brink of a local lockdown and was placed on Public Health England’s list of areas of concern after the Yorkshire city, which is home to half a million people, saw its infection rate rise to 32.4 new cases per 100,000 people.
One in every 29 people who gets tested in the city – 3.5 per cent – is testing positive, according to official data.
If cases cannot be kept under wraps with a tougher testing regime, stricter rules might have to be brought in to maintain social distancing and drive the virus out.
Revellers take to the streets in groups to enjoy a night out despite the Yorkshire city being added to a ‘Covid watch list’ amid a surge in coronavirus cases
Party-goers swap a night in at home to brave the chilling temperatures and hit the bars and pubs in the city amid the pandemic
Crowds of people flout social distancing guidelines as they gather together in the city without face masks into the small hours
One reveller lies on the floor following a night out in the Yorkshire city which this week saw its infection rate rise to 32.4 new cases per 100,000 people
As the number of cases in the city continue to rise, Leeds City Council is already putting in its own measures, including encouraging employers to follow national guidance on working safely, providing specific support for care homes, schools and other places with groups of people and engaging with communities, businesses and partners.
It is also targetting young people with social media messages in an effort to discourage large gatherings.
In a statement the council said: ‘The latest seven-day infection figures show Leeds as having a rate of 32.4 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate on testing of 3.5%.
‘The latest data suggests that a lot of the cases are in different areas of the city, meaning they may be linked to social interaction and leisure activities.
‘The spread is broad and changeable across wards and cases have also been increasingly detected in younger people aged 18-34, with some concern over activities like house parties and gatherings.’
Council leader Judith Blake added that now was ‘a pivotal moment in our efforts to control the spread of the virus’.
She told the BBC: ‘Nobody wants to see further restrictions on life in Leeds.
‘The harsh reality is that if our infection rate continues to rise as it has been, we will be left with no alternative.’
The council said 44 new cases were identified in Leeds on Wednesday.
Ms Blake added: ‘This is a rise in all different wards across the city, particularly in young adults of all communities.’
Two friends sit on a bench and take a break as scores of revellers descend onto the streets to enjoy a night of partying
A group of people appear in high spirits at they hit the streets without face masks to enjoy a night out amid a surge in coronavirus cases
Revellers sit on the pavement as they join other party-goers for a night out in Leeds despite the city being placed on Public Health England’s list of areas of concern
A group of people stand close to each other as they hit the city amid the coronavirus pandemic to party into the small hours
Friends run towards each other in the streets as the city, which is home to half a million people, sees its infection rate rise to 32.4 new cases per 100,000 people
A crowd of people without face masks huddle in groups as they hit the streets to celebrate a night out at bars in the city
As Leeds teeters on the brink, measures in Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and West Yorkshire will be eased from next Tuesday, with casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres and indoor play areas to lawfully reopen.
WHERE ARE RESTRICTIONS BEING EASED? AND WHERE ARE THEY REMAINING?
A ban on two households mixing indoors will continue in City of Manchester, Salford, Rochdale, Trafford, Oldham, Bury, Bolton, and Tameside,
In Oldham, in addition to a household mixing ban indoors, residents will continue to be advised to avoid mixing with anyone from another household anywhere.
In Bolton, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres, and indoor play areas (including soft play areas), will remain closed. Socially distanced indoor performances will remain closed, and restrictions on certain close contact services will remain. We are working closely with local leaders.
A ban on two households mixing indoors will continue in Preston, Pendle and parts of Blackburn.
In parts of Blackburn Blackburn and parts of Pendle residents will continue to be advised to avoid mixing with anyone from another household anywhere.
Indoor gatherings restrictions remain, the next review of these measures will take place by 11th September.
Indoor swimming pools, including water parks, indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor gyms and sports courts and facilities will be able to lawfully reopen from Tuesday 8th September 00.01, but casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres, and indoor play areas (including soft play areas), will remain closed. This will be reviewed next week.
Socially distanced indoor performances will remain closed, and restrictions on certain close contact services will remain.
Urban areas of Bradford, where the ban on indoor household gatherings is in place.
In Kirklees, the ban on indoor household gatherings will continue in Dewsbury and Batley.
The ban will also continue in parts of Calderdale.
Newark and Sherwood, Slough and Wakefield will be removed from the Government’s coronavirus Watchlist – but the rates of coronavirus infection in Bolton are considered to be too high by the Government for these easements to be applied.
Announcing the changes on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘I’m very glad we’ve been able to make this change, working with local councils, because local lockdowns are working to control the virus.
‘We are seeing improvements in the rates of infection thanks to the huge efforts made by local communities and authorities working alongside our effective Test and Trace system.
‘We must stay alert and I continue to encourage everyone to play their part by following local rules, self-isolating and requesting a free test as soon as they get any symptoms.’
The move was praised by Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who said: ‘We have been asking the Government to consider easing restrictions on business opening across Greater Manchester and welcome the Secretary of State’s positive announcement today.
‘There is no evidence that these businesses are causing the spread of the virus and we know that these premises are making arrangements to operate in a safe way.
‘It is understandable that this won’t apply in Bolton for the time being, but we will be working hard with Bolton Council and partners to move to a position where the restrictions on business opening can be eased as soon as possible.
‘However, it is important people continue to follow the rules on no social gatherings in the home and the public health advice on washing hands, face coverings and social distancing.’
This week King’s College London researchers highlighted South Tyneside, Oldham, Redcar & Cleveland, Wirral, Bradford, Barnsley and Denbighshire were also potential areas of concern.
Lockdown measures could also be reintroduced in Lanarkshire, Scotland, due to rising infection rates in the region.
NHS Lanarkshire’s director of public heath has warned the region is ‘very close’ to having to reimplement restrictions, similar to those introduced in the Glasgow area, after the number of cases rose by 16.
Lanarkshire’s health board has now identified 3,044 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Yesterday, Britain confirmed 1,813 new coronavirus infections – 596 more than last Saturday’s total – with 124 new hospitalisations and 69 on ventilator beds.
Twelve people died from coronavirus in the UK within 28 days of a positive test on Saturday, bringing the country’s total number of deaths to 41,549.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of new coronavirus infections in the UK are in the under-40s, while the rate among older people has fallen sharply in an ‘extraordinary’ shift that has left researchers hoping to avoid a second wave.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,300 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Public Health Wales said the total number of cases in the country increased by 77, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 18,283. One person in Wales died of Covid-19, according to figures released yesterday.
Eleven people who tested positive for coronavirus in the last 28 days died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals to 29,604, NHS England said on Saturday.
The patients were aged between 56 and 94, all had known underlying health conditions and the dates of the deaths ranged from August 31 to September 4, with the majority on or after September 3.
There were 141 new cases reported in Scotland, but no deaths, and there have been a further 118 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland today, according to the Department of Health, but no deaths.
Scores of people without face masks congregate outside a bar in Leeds despite the city seeing a rise in coronavirus cases
Revellers flout social distancing guidelines as they stand outside a pub despite the city teetering on the brink of a local lockdown
A group of people stand inside a takeaway restaurant in Leeds following a night out in the city amid the coronavirus pandemic