LONDON — With strict new coronavirus restrictions set to be introduced in England’s northwestern city of Liverpool on Wednesday, huge crowds took to the streets, hugging, dancing cheering and singing — even though the area has the third-highest total of covid-19 hospital admissions in Europe.
Under the new measures, all pubs will close, and socializing with other households is banned.
In footage shared on social media, the large group of predominantly young people gathered as they exited bars in one of the city’s nightlife hot spots. While some appeared to be wearing masks, others did not wear a face covering or adhere to social distancing rules.
One witness, who did not want to be identified, told local media that the scene was “one of the most horrible sights that I’ve witnessed,” adding that the revelers defied “every single social distancing rule imaginable” as they congregated closely in the street.
Some on social media pointed out that one person in the footage appeared to cough into his hand before hugging another individual, while others shared a photo — reportedly posted to Snapchat — captioned, “Herd immunity here we come.”
Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, said she was “saddened” by the behavior.
“I think it’s irresponsible. I think it’s disappointing, and it’s gatherings like that which unfortunately don’t help in any way to bring down the escalation of the virus,” she said.
Merseyside police confirmed in a statement Wednesday that officers were called to the Concert Square and Fleet Street area of the Liverpool city center, where they dispersed the large gathering “quickly and safely.”